By Lian Cheng
Internal strife and power struggle are looming in Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) despite the earlier announcement that there will be no contest for the presidential and other posts in the upcoming Triennial Delegates Conference (TDC) to be held from April 23 to 24 in Sibu.
As of today, not only that there may be contest for the presidential post, but more than two weeks ago, Team A and Team B were already formed, where there is a high likelihood that most posts will be contested if the situation isn’t contained by this Thursday (April 22).
The Team A list is the one that came about following the passing of its former president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing on October 31 last year, where all leaders on the list either advance one step forward or remain as status quo should there be no room for advancement.
Current acting president Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum leads the list as the presidential candidate, Dato Majang Renggi as the deputy presidential candidate, and Dato Janang Bungsu as the secretary-general, a post he currently holds.
This was the list agreed upon by the PRS Supreme Council, the highest decision-making body within the party, not long after the passing of Masing in preparation for the TDC.
However, about two weeks ago, dissenting voices emerged where there were whispers of contest for various posts. Following that, another list started to circulate among members.
Minister in the Sarawak Premier’s Office Datuk John Sikie Tayai heads the Team B list with Majang as the deputy president, and Liwan Lagang (presently PRS vice-president) is to be appointed as secretary-general.
While most leaders in the party opt for no contest to avoid damages and rifts caused in the course of party contention, those advocating for party election have been adamant and continue to assert their views on grassroots members of various divisions.
As the TDC dates draw near, Team A leaders who initially refused party election to avoid rift within the party started to gear themselves up to fight for different posts and do their rounds among divisions to get support from the grassroots level while promoting their new list.
Salang continues to lead in this new list, but PRS vice-president Wilson Nyabong Ijang will contest for the deputy president post while information chief Christopher Gira will vie for the Youth chief post.
Datuk Malcom Mussen Lamor is slated to be appointed the secretary-general in this list.
The power struggle within the party began to surface after Sikie openly announced his intention to contest for the presidential post recently, a decision which was clearly against the one made by PRS Supreme Council.
And for Sikie to contest, he has to pass another hurdle — the approval of the Credential Committee, which convened today at PRS Headquarters.
The Credential Committee, chaired by Salang and made up by three other members, including Youth chief Datuk Snowdan Lawan, Women chief Dato Sri Doris Brodie, and Janang, had decided that there should be no contest for the presidential post as well as other posts in the upcoming TDC, and the first list agreed by the Supreme Council should be honoured.
Yet whatever is happening now shows otherwise. If the Supreme Council’s decision can be vetoed, it is anyone’s guess whether the decision of the Credential Committee will be followed through.
Meanwhile, another complication popped up.
According to the party constitution, all candidates who intend to contest in the party election must submit their nomination forms 14 days prior to the actual election.
It was learnt that there were submissions yesterday. As such, questions were also raised if these submissions will be taken into consideration or put aside null and void.
PRS was expected to be in disarray following the passing of its charismatic leader Masing less than two months before the 12th Sarawak Election last December.
The party, to the surprise of many, held itself together. Its leaders worked hand-in-hand to go through a tough election where it managed to retain all 11 seats allocated to it.
It wasn’t so in the last General Election. PRS lost three out of the six parliamentary seats allocated to it and suffered another blow when its Sri Aman MP Datuk Masir Kujat left for Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) which later he also abandoned.
Now with the 15th General Election being around the corner, can PRS defend its three seats and wrestle back its three lost seats after an intense infighting? This perhaps is the question PRS leaders need to consider before trying to amass more power and influence for themselves within the party. — DayakDaily