THE Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has been in office for 45 days now, and even though there is still much to be delivered as per their election manifesto, the formation of a full Federal Cabinet is something that should not drag on further.
While the setting up of the ‘Council of Eminent Persons’ was swift, the formation of the full cabinet seems to be taking longer than usual. The delay seems to indicate that there might be intrigues that are as difficult to solve as Greek puzzles.
That is why the meeting between Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad with Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Warisan top leaders last night (June 24) has left even more room for speculation.
The rumoured appointments of Selangau MP Baru Bian and Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen as ministers, if true, means they have come of age. This is especially so when promises to recommend them to be appointed ministers were made by their respective party superiors in the run-up to the May 9 polls. Since the promises were announced with much fanfare, surely PH leaders would not want to disappoint their Sarawakian supporters.
But word from the grapevine is that besides Baru and Chong, two more MPs from Sarawak would be appointed to the federal cabinet.
In fact, well before the Dr Mahathir-GPS-Warisan meeting, there were already whispers that MPs from GPS would be appointed as ministers. The figure being bandied about is “two”, meaning two ministerial posts for GPS, which has pledged to be PH-friendly.
If indeed this is true, PH supporters might not be too happy about this political twist. To put it bluntly, they have worked ‘damn hard’ to unseat the Barisan Nasional (BN) government and for PH Sarawak leaders to be allocated the same number of cabinet positions as GPS would be something difficult to stomach.
Hence, PH leaders in Sarawak had better brace themselves for a rough landing and start brainstorming for some good justifications to placate their supporters if the rumour turns out to be true.
But for GPS supporters, they will certainly be clapping their hands and praising the PH government for being ‘inclusive’. At the same time, some of them might even gloat and use this to justify why leaving BN was necessary.
If the rumour is true, who would be the chosen ones from GPS? DayakDaily will attempt to take a wild guess.
In terms of ministerial appointments, Dr Mahathir had previously said that his decision might be based on the number of MPs a party has. GPS has 19 MPs, out of which 13 are from Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), three from Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), two from Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) and one from Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP).
Based on this, PBB and PRS will probably get one slot each.
This interesting question is now narrowed to “Who will be the chosen ones from PBB and PRS?”
Well, based on seniority, Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar would be a good choice from PBB. However, with age being a factor nowadays, Wan Junaidi, although he has claimed to be in the pink of health, might be sidelined due to his age. In addition, his previous statement that BN MPs had to vote according to BN’s decision and not for the benefit of the people might come back to haunt him.
That leaves former Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof to be next in line. In terms of age and experience as a federal minister, he has the advantage, but the proposed Pan Borneo Highway project might be his Achilles heel because rumours are buzzing that the highway contracts are now under scrutiny by the authorities.
Hence, Fadillah might be bypassed since his family has been implicated in the awarding of the contracts.
If the PBB pick is a female MP, then the focus would shift to Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim. However, with Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail now in charge of women’s affairs and Zuraida Kamaruddin helming the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, Rohani would have to be seen as more than good to gain a spot in the federal cabinet. However, feedback from the ground has indicated that she is generally perceived as mediocre.
So the one with the brightest prospect would be Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi. Being the grand nephew of the famous Tun Jugah, Nanta’s family name has always been accorded due respect. Not being involved in any scandals and having previous experience as a deputy minister will put Nanta in good stead. If there is anything standing in his way, it might be his “Dayak” status, which may be a blessing and also a curse, of sorts.
The decision to select a minister from PBB, if indeed the rumour is true, will not be an easy one. Will Sarawak end up with three Dayak and one Chinese Federal Ministers? Let us just wait and see. — DayakDaily