Activist suggests PRS, SUPP gang up to form new coalition

Peter John Jaban

KUCHING, March 11: Sarawak-based human rights activist Peter John Jaban of Solidarity Anak Sarawak is urging Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) to seriously consider their future in Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).

This is in response to reports that Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB), which claims to be GPS-friendly, is taking in former leaders from PRS who are likely to challenge existing coalition members for seat allocation in the next state election.

“Therefore, SUPP and PRS should draw a line under this long-running saga by forming a genuine Sarawak-based opposition party. In this way, they can both pursue a new land policy that will put an end to the sufferings of the rural people struggling to reclaim their ancestral lands and equally fulfil their party promises of fighting for Sarawak rights,” said Peter John in a statement today.

Peter John said the debate about the admission of splinter groups from SUPP and PRS had been going on since before the last state election in 2016.

“PBB (Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu), the party linked to governor (Tun Pehin Sri Abdul) Taib Mahmud holds the vast majority of seats in the state government and so dominate their coalition partners. PRS, at least, was represented through the appointment of (Tan Sri Dr) James Masing as one of the deputy chief ministers but SUPP was overlooked once again.

“Now they want to bring in these former members of both parties to potentially challenge them for seats? Why wait and stay in GPS when you are being fooled? It is about time to leave,” said Peter John.

He said SUPP and PRS had been very vocal on the subject of Sarawak rights and autonomy despite decades of silence when Barisan Nasional was in power in the federal government.

“If they are sincere about this goal, then they should challenge PBB, both on a platform of the restitution of our rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and on the preservation of Sarawak culture and ‘adat’ through a new land policy that will uphold native rights.

“Give the people of Sarawak a genuine choice that can put an end to the struggles for land rights and also uphold the fight for Sarawak’s rights within Malaysia,” he said.

Peter John said so far, GPS had continued to pursue a policy of land development put in place during Taib’s tenure as head of PBB, which had seen the natives divested of their lands and plantation giants profiting from huge tracts of land in Sarawak that once belonged to the indigenous people.

“This has caused untold misery to the rural people of Sarawak and tarnished the state’s good name as well as the name of Sarawak oil palm internationally. A Sarawak-based coalition between PRS and SUPP can provide a good alternative to this appalling land policy while still maintaining an independent voice in the fight for restitution of our rights under MA63 (the Malaysia Agreement).”

“SUPP and PRS have nothing to lose at this stage. With no more funding from Umno, they might as well stand together and follow their own political destiny.

“Sarawakian voters are caught between a rock and a hard place currently. On one side is a coalition that promises greater autonomy but a terrible land rights record and on the other is the hope of restitution of land rights but silence on the autonomy issue. They should give Sarawakian voters a real choice,” reckoned Peter John. — DayakDaily