PRS and SPDP remind Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak that the rural vote bank is with them and if not taken care of, 'somebody will come by and withdraw it'.
KUCHING: Bitter Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) supreme council members today unanimously agreed to reject all ministerial posts in Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s cabinet.
This means that Joseph Entulu who was appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and Joseph Salang Gandum, a deputy minister, will not accept their posts.
A miffed Salang had in fact already earlier rejected the position.
Parti president James Masing said majority of the party’s supreme council members had agreed to reject Najib’s offer and felt that they were “sidelined” and “deserved to be treated better.”
PRS had delivered six parliamentary seats to Barisan Nasional’s 133 seat tally. They did better than some BN parties in peninsular who were suitably rewarded.
Without mincing his words Masing warned Najib not to toy with PRS and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) which had been totally ignored despite delivering four parliamentary seats.
“Don’t try to sideline us because we have the support of the rural people. It is not a warning.
“It is a fact, in case they don’t understand that we have six seats and four from Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP).
“PRS and SPDP which are rural-based parties are not properly treated by the present government.
“The rural areas in Sarawak are Barisan Nasional ‘fixed deposit’. If you don’t take care of it, somebody will come by and withdraw it,” warned Masing.
‘Give us appropriate portfolio’ Masing, who chaired the emergency supreme council meeting, said majority of the members felt that a ministerial post in the PM Department was inappropriate for PRS which was a rural based party.
“Joseph Entulu who was offered a post of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department sought the advice of the meeting which agreed that the president would discuss with the Prime Minister where Entulu should be.
“All the members of the supreme council are not happy that Entulu is a mere Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.
“We want the Prime Minister to give us an appropriate portfolio, the one that could be of assistance to the rural people, portfolios such as Infrastructure and Agriculture,” he said.
He said the council felt the same way about Salang’s new position which was deputy minister of tourism.
“Such post is not of any assistance to the rural people. We just want a portfolio that is of assistance to the rural people, and not just any position” said Masing.
Masing revealed that the party was initially offered two deputy ministers’ posts which they felt was an insult because the party had delivered on its pledge to BN.
But it wasn’t until Masing informed Najib that PRS felt they were being sidelined and would not attend the swearing in ceremony that the PM tweaked his list before announcing it on Wednesday. In the new list, he named Entulu a full minister.
But even this move by Najib has not appeased the party.
Letter to PM Asked what would happen if Najib did not agree to their demands, Masing said that the case would be brought before the supreme council members for a decision.
“I cannot tell you what the decision may be,” he added.
Urging those in power to look at the issue seriously, Masing said that he had written a letter to the Prime Minister seeking an appointment over their participation in the government.
“Of course we appreciate and understand he has the final say as to who should be in his cabinet. But we ask for his kind consideration and look at us again because we contribute quite substantially to the Barisan Nasional’s victory.
“The Prime Minister should not look at what is given to us but he should also look at what is given to the others.
“We feel that we have been sidelined,” he said, referring to Sarawak United People’s Party which retained only one of its seven seats but was given one full minister post.
“We want fairness and justice,” he added.
‘Illegal ministers in cabinet’ To make matters worse for Najib, DAP parliamentary leader and Gelang Patah MP Lim Kit Siang pointed out that five non-MPs appointed to the cabinet could be performing their tasks illegally and unconstitutionally as they have not been sworn in as Senators.
“Najib’s post-13GE cabinet has become a farce and even a joke as it has two illegal ministers and three illegal deputy ministers although they have gone through an unlawful oath-taking ceremony before the Yang di Pertuan Agong yesterday.
The two ministers are Paul Low and Abdul Wahid Omar (both Prime Minister’s Department), while the deputy ministers are P Waythamoorthy (PM’s Department), J Loga Bala Mohan (Federal Territories) and Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah (Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism).
“Was the two-hour first cabinet meeting yesterday tainted by illegality because of the attendance of two illegal ministers, Paul Low and Abdul Wahid?
“And today, Paul Low is already giving interviews as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, which he is not entitled to, as his ministerial appointment can only take effect when he is sworn in as Senator,” said Lim in a statement.
“I am given to understand that up to now, there has been no swearing in of the five for them to take up the two ministerial and three deputy ministerial appointments.
“Is there going to be a ‘rushed’ midnight swearing-in of the five as Senators?” he asked.