Equality in GPS: The ball is in PBB’s court, says Masing

PRS president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing.

KUCHING, August 14: It is up to Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) whether to agree or disagree with calls for the yet-to-be-registered Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) to uphold the concept of equality among all its four founding member parties.

Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said this when commenting on Sarawak United Peoples’ Party’s (SUPP) 10-point understanding for the formation of GPS. The resolutions were adopted during the party’s annual delegates’ conference (ADC) in Kuching on Sunday (Aug 12).

Masing, who is also a deputy chief minister, said his party had no problems with SUPP’s 10-point understanding, and he agreed that consensus must be reached with all GPS founding members on matters affecting state governance.

GPS other coalition partner is Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).

“I suggested these proposals when GPS was mooted early this year, but I was reprimanded for my statement by GPS members. So I stopped.

“Let SUPP, PBB and PDP say their piece. PRS, via me, was done months ago. I have enough of being reprimanded for saying things for the good of GPS,” Masing said when contacted today.

Among SUPP’s 10-point understanding, one of them pertains to the nomination for the deputy chief minister’s post.

Currently, the chief minister’s post is held by the president of PBB — in this case, by Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg — by virtue of the party having the most number of seats in the state legislative assembly (DUN). As for the deputy chief minister’s posts, SUPP proposed that each remaining GPS member party be allowed to nominate a candidate for the post.

SUPP also suggested that all state and parliamentary seats shall be agreed upon and assigned to all founding members, whereby each member party shall have full rights in nominating their own candidates to contest under the GPS ticket.

In addition, none of the founding member parties shall contest or hold more than 49 per cent of the total number of state seats at any one time. PBB currently has 46 of such seats in the 82-seat state legislature. That works out to be 56 per cent of the total number of seats. To reduce it to 49 per cent, they would have to let go of six seats.

Another point raised by SUPP was the need for consultations among all founding member parties for the appointment of state cabinet ministers and assistant ministers, including the allotment of portfolios. This also applies to postings in state government agencies, government-linked companies (GLCs), municipal and rural district councils, and statutory bodies.

Following the formation of GPS in June this year, Masing had warned that the new state-governing coalition must be properly structured to ensure its relevance to the people or risk suffering the same fate as the Barisan Nasional (in GE14) during the next state election, which must be held by 2021.

Masing had said then that GPS should not have any dominating partners, like United Malays National Organisation (Umno) in Barisan Nasional, and that all member parties should be allowed to have their say in decision-making.

However, Masing’s statement did not augur well with several leaders in GPS; several of them told him not to dictate how the GPS structure and setup should be like. — DayakDaily