By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Oct 4: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has remained tight-lip over the political future of Assistant Minister of Transport Datuk Dr Jerip Susil amid speculations that the latter has applied to join Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB).
When asked to comment about Dr Jerip’s political affiliation, he had refused to divulge on the issue.
“No politics today. Today, we talk about robots… I will tell you later,” he told reporters after officiating the Borneo International Drones and Robotic Exploration (Drobotex) held at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here today.
Among those present at the function was Dr Jerip, who is also deputy chairman of Tabung Ekonomi Gagasan Anak Bumiputera Sarawak (Tegas), which is the co-organiser of the event along with Sarawak Multimedia Agency (SMA).
When approached, Dr Jerip said he would leave it to Abang Johari who is also Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) chairman to decide.
According to some reliable sources, Dr Jerip has been advised to rejoin SUPP as the seat was traditionally allocated to the party.
Dr Jerip, who is also Mambong assemblyman first contest in the Bengoh state constituency in 2001 under Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) ticket. But, he left the party in 2014 to form a breakaway United People’s Party (UPP) which has been rebranded as Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB).
In another surprising turn of events, he left PSB just before the last Cabinet reshuffle was announced on Aug 22 this year and has been reappointed as Assistant Minister of Transport in the GPS-led government, while his former party, PSB has left its tag as ‘GPS-friendly party’ to become a full-fledged opposition party, which is neither Pakatan Harapan (PH)-friendly nor GPS-friendly.
When contacted, PBB Mambong caretaker chairman Datuk Detta Samen pointed out that there was a procedure to follow for new members to join the party.
“If he (Dr Jerip) applies to join PBB, and since he is a VIP figure, my cawangan (branch) cannot say yes or no. We have to bring it to the headquarters. And it’s up to the headquarters to advise me. Even though it’s my prerogative, he is not going to be an ordinary party member. So, we have to bring it up to the headquarters,” he explained.
According to him, PBB is considered as a kingmaker in Mambong constituency as it has 48 ranting (sub-branches) with between 3,000 to 4,000 members.
“Say for instance, we want to organise an event, we will just activate any ranting and it can be done. So that’s what I meant as strength. I’m not trying to belittle other component parties but PBB is the strongest component GPS party as far as Mambong is concerned,” he said.
Detta added that in the last state election when Dr Jerip stood as Barisan Nasional (BN) direct candidate, the BN machinery had relied heavily on PBB.
“In the last parliamentary election (for Puncak Borneo), BN lost badly in Mambong for the simple reason that PBB Mambong was bypassed,” he asserted.
Mambong is one of the three state constituencies which make up Puncak Borneo. The other two are Serembu and Tarat.
Detta reiterated that since Dr Jerip had resigned from PSB, it would be very interesting to observe as to which component party he would join.
“Since Dr Jerip has resigned from PSB and supports GPS, will he stop there? He will definitely want to be the candidate (in the next state election). But which component party will he join? It’s either PBB or SUPP,” he opined.
“For that, I’m sure SUPP will accept him back. And likewise, PBB will accept him, if the top leadership say so. We are a very disciplined component party and maybe we (will) accept him,” he revealed.
Detta assumed the post of PBB Mambong caretaker chairman after its former chairman, the late Datuk Seri Dr James Dawos Mamit passed away recently.— DayakDaily