Betong’s concentration of power might get too hot to handle

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Commentary

The Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) convention is just around the corner. With both its Youth Chief Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof and Women’s chief Tan Sri Empiang Jabu deciding to relinquish their posts and move on to more suitable positions, one thing is for sure — new happy feet will be soon be stepping into the two pairs of branded shoes they are leaving behind.

Empiang (second left) exchanges a handshake with Abang Johari. Fadillah is at third left. Photo sourced from sarawakvoice.com

When you vacate a post within a party, you only have three options — to stay put where you are, climb up the ladder or to retire. Within PBB, Fadillah is not only a rising star, but a ‘shooting’ one.

Besides having strong political alliances here and there, it’s no secret that his family has obese wallets bursting with resources to support his political career. So when Fadillah kept mum on what his intentions were, one thing is for sure — he ain’t quitting and the only way to go is up!

With Fadillah moving up (how high up is anybody’s guess), the next natural successor in line for Youth Chief will be Gerald Rentap Jabu. The son of Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang and Empiang has risen through the rank and file in terms of seniority. Being the deputy youth chief, he is the natural Youth Chief in waiting.


In fact, steps had been taken to ensure young Rentap will be the next Youth chief since as early as 2015. Jabu gave up his seat of PBB deputy president to make way for Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah to become acting deputy president while Robert Lawson Chuat gave up his assistant minister’s post and vacated his Bukit Saban seat for young Rentap. These are truly Betong’s Band of Brothers.

With the sacrifice of mother Empiang, at last the Malay see the light of day to have a PBB Wanita chief. To further thank her for her gracious sacrifice, it will not be a surprise that after ascending to position of Youth chief, Rentap — with his one-term experience as state assemblyman will be appointed as an Assistant Minister in the next state cabinet reshuffle after the general election (GE14).

Meanwhile, Chuat, as the DayakDaily predicted, has been confirmed to be nominated a candidate for a Parliamentary seat. Having being in political hibernation for four years, his great sacrifice must be given its due recognition. As a result, Chuat might even be given a deputy minister’s post in the Federal Cabinet. He sacrificed his state Assistant Minister’s post in 2015 after all!

In 2015, when Uggah returned to the State, he relinquished his Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities position. The post was not taken over by any MP from Sarawak, but by Gerakan Presiden, Datuk Mah Siew Kiong. Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi’s hope of becoming a full Minister was shot down and Datuk Henry Sum Agong was appointed as a Deputy Minister instead.

Because of this, maybe there is still hope (and space) yet for Chuat to be appointed as a federal Assistant Minister. With Uggah as PBB deputy president from Betong, Rentap the Youth chief from Layar and Chuat if he is appointed as deputy minister at the federal level, there is nothing much left for the rest of Pesaka. All powers to be will be concentrated in Betong.

Today, one cannot help but wonder if the power sharing formula between PBB’s divisions still exist. Compared to the formula used by PBB when it was initially formed, this is a far cry from fair.

In the 1980’s for example, the distribution of power for the Pesaka wing was evenly distributed with Jabu as Deputy President representing Betong, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Leonard Linggi Jugah as Secretary-General representing Kapit and the late Tan Sri Celestine Ujang Jilan as its Youth Chief representing Bintulu.

As the newly enthroned leader, will Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg ignore the old formula and opt for a new recipe?

Today, most party members still remember the contribution of the founding father of Parti Pesaka Anak Sarawak (later known as Pesaka), the late Tun Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Temenggong Jugah Barieng who is also Nanta’s grandfather. Without Pesaka merging with PANAS and BERJASA, PBB would not exist today.

Looking back at history, the Linggi and Ujang teams were the ones who fought tooth and nail for Abang Johari during his tussle against the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem for PBB’s vice-president post in the 1990s. Although Abang Johari won, these loyal lieutenants were cast aside and have been in cold storage since. Will these groups just go on with their lives as ‘non-entities’ in PBB or will Abang Johari reward them now that he is in the position to do so?

While waiting for the cameras to roll and movie to unfold, the political future of the Linggi and fate of the Rajang Basin remains speculative in nature. However only one thing is for sure – that there is a concerted move towards concentration of power in Betong, and if it materialises, will it be acceptable to the rest of Pesaka? — DayakDaily