Rich farmer vs poor brother

Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom

Commentary

Will the rich farmer steal his poor little brother’s only cow?

When Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) vice-president Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah came to Saratok MP Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom’s defence in January this year, it was just as good as confirming Mawan’s PBB membership status. Political observers had suspected as much. Otherwise why should PBB top brass such as Abdul Karim bother to come to Mawan’s aid and speak up to defend him?

Since Mawan is a member, why did PBB keep the whole thing under wraps? There must be a good reason for former PBB president Pehin Sri Adenan Satem to want Mawan to keep silent about his membership.

The reason perhaps is not to further tarnish PBB’s “big bully” image.


As the backbone party in the state Barisan Nasional (BN), PBB has been acting like a “big brother”, policing Sarawak and keep its racial representation in politics intact. It is public knowledge that over the three decades between 1987 and 2017, there were many newly elected independent representatives whose first choice was to join PBB. However, former PBB president and current Head of State Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud kept his part of the bargain and referred them to other component parties instead.

Taib ensured the distribution or allocation of seats among component parties was within the check and balance perimeter. That is to say, the total sum of seats held by component parties would be equal to or slightly more than the number of seats held by PBB. In this sense, there was the existence of a check and balance among the state BN component parties.

However, after the creation of 11 new seats in 2016, PBB held 45 seats out of the 82 state seats; well over a simple majority, achieved by absorbing state representatives from either BN-friendly parties or directly taking the seat from the members of its coalition party especially Progressive Democratic Party (PDP). Overnight, from a “big brother” who helped the component parties, it had become a “big bully” who took away seats from its little brother.

In 2016, PDP officially lost four seats, not to the opposition but to its ally PBB. These four seats included two newly created seats which were supposed to be allocated to PDP but in which Adenan fielded PBB candidates who resigned from the party as direct candidates, but rejoined PBB after the state election.

They also included the two seats of Bekenu (Rosey Yunus) and Batu Danau (Paulus Palu Gumbang) which traditionally was allocated to PDP. Due to internal disputes, Rosey and Paulus, together with Mawan left PDP and formed Parti Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak (Teras), a BN-friendly and splinter party from PDP. PBB accepted Rosey and Paulus as PBB members in 2016. Thus, the two seats conveniently landed in PBB’s grasp.

Now, Mawan who is not only Saratok MP but also Pakan assemblyman has finally come clean to confirm that he is a PBB member. This means PBB has effectively taken five state seats and one parliamentary seat from PDP! That makes it a total of six seats. PBB does have every reason to keep mum about Mawan’s membership.

After all, when a rich farmer with 10 cows tries to steal the only cow his poor little brother has left on the pretext that the poor brother is too poor to keep it alive, he wouldn’t be stupid enough to shout about it.

But then, Mawan in his desperation, came right out with his PBB membership card after present PBB president Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg announced that the former’s name was not in the BN candidate list “at the moment”.

Such a move makes one think. Is it a smart or stupid move? Will it help Mawan or finally cost him the seat?

According to a PBB insider who is a grassroots leader, if the seat were to be given to PDP, the Saratok PBB boys who have been helping Mawan to win the seat in the last parliamentary election will continue to grant the same support to the PDP candidate.

However, if the seat were to be given to Mawan and it becomes a PBB seat, then the insider believes there are many other PBB Saratok members, local boys, who deserve the seat more than Mawan whom he described as “doing nothing for the people except politicking”.

The insider claimed that PBB has outstanding, young and dynamic grassroots leaders such as Bell Bernard Agan and Leonard Jambu who could easily replace Mawan. Why should the nomination be given to Mawan who is not even from Saratok?

To him, even PDP can produce better candidates than Mawan.

“Subeng Mula who is a successful businessman is a good choice. Then there is also medical doctor Dr James Chella. There are many outstanding locals around. We don’t need a candidate from outside,” said the PBB party insider.

Mawan stood as Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party’s (SPDP’s) candidate for Saratok in 2013. He was then the president of SPDP (now renamed to PDP) and state Social Development Minister.

He won the seat with a majority of 2,081 in a three-cornered fight where he garnered 11,600 votes against PKR’s Ali Biju’s 9,519 votes while independent candidate Dato Abang Rosli Abang Paleng polled only 681 votes. — DayakDaily