The homeless politicians

Barisan Nasional logo.


by Lian Cheng

Well, it is interesting to watch the political development in the state now that Sarawak is gearing up for the upcoming 14th General Election (GE14).

With only a definite and limited number of seats available, like every election, some existing politicians will have to be off-loaded to pave the way for fresh faces.

No matter how brilliant or outstanding or how much a politician might have sacrificed, no one can stay in power forever. If there is a time to ascend to the high places, there will also come a time to step down gracefully.

In the run-up to this general election, the fate of two senior politicians have attracted considerable amount of attention. One of them is none other than Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom, the former President of Parti Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak (Teras) as well as former President of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) which recently has changed its name to Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).

Another equally prominent political figure is the Deputy President of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun.

Why are these two politicians being put together in one discussion?

Most readers by now would have sensed that although from different backgrounds, these two politicians share many similarities.

Their very first similarity is that both of them are now in limbo with the pendulum swinging more towards them being left out rather than being fielded again as Barisan Nasional (BN) candidates in GE14.

Secondly, both as senior politicians are well versed in the dos and don’ts and norms of politics. Both of them are experienced enough to know what will become of them if they don’t ‘play as a team member’ and smart enough to know what was required of them to be nominated as a BN candidate in the coming election. All these they know, and yet strangely enough, both of them refused to do what was required.

Thirdly, Mawan is ‘homeless’ or ‘partyless’, while Entulu, despite having a party, is as good as belonging to none. They are both renegade politicians, who have followed their hearts instead of their heads.

Mawan who even made it to a senior minister position before, has been ‘homeless’ for the last four years. Despite having led the public to think that he would be returning to his former party PDP, a BN component party, Mawan however, did not take the actual steps of ‘going home’.

Four years after leaving first, PDP and later Teras, Mawan is still ‘out there’ carrying out his own political activities, deciding his own agenda and making his own political decisions. He is a Lone Ranger.

Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom

However, credit must be given where it is due. Mawan, who though hailing from Pakan, was still able to win the parliamentary seat of Saratok, an Iban-majority seat located more than 75 kilometres away from his home ground in 2013.

During the 2016 state election, in order to solve the many impasses within the state BN, the late state BN chairman Pehin Sri Adenan Satem had agreed to the formula of fielding “BN direct candidates”. Mawan, being partyless, benefitted from the formula and hence made it to the state assembly.

Mawan is a unique case in Sarawak’s political history. He founded two political parties — PDP and later Teras — and yet, he has been a partyless, wandering vagabond for the past four years.

According to sources, all Mawan had to do to save his own skin and to return to his former glory, is to eat humble pie and return to the PDP fold. However, Mawan being Mawan, is taking forever, while time waits for no man. This forced PDP President Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing to give the final ultimatum by quoting BN Chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that there would be no direct BN candidate for PDP.

Like Mawan, Entulu has chosen to tread the difficult path.

Entulu is a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and also PRS’ only full minister in the Federal Cabinet. He was once a close ally to PRS President, Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing.

Masing, who is Sarawak’s Deputy Chief Minister, had last October, confirmed the candidacy for four parliamentary constituencies except for Selangau and Lubok Antu. Masing did not confirm nor denounce the candidacy of Entulu when questioned, and there was no indication of an imminent ammouncement over the matter.

In response to Masing’s non-committal statement on the Selangau candidacy last October, Entulu used Datuk Masir Kujat as a case in point. Even though Masir was not nominated by PRS, the latter was still annnounced as a BN candidate in 2008.

Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun

Recently, a party source confirmed that Masing had made up his mind that Entulu will not be renominated in the upcoming general election. This, according to the party insider, was because Masing is adamant that PRS should only field a personality who has loyalty.

The main reason why Entulu will be dropped is due to his betrayal of the party’s trust during the State Election in 2016. According to the party source, Entulu had fielded Ali Puji as an independent candidate for the Tamin constituency against the PRS candidate, the young Christopher Gira. Entulu was said to have ‘done it in the open’.

“Our president can tolerate anything but not betrayal to the party. To him, the lack of loyalty is the deadliest sin in the party,” said the source.

The source also pointed out that since last October, Entulu at the party level has done nothing to prove nor convince the party of his sincerity to mend his ways and return to the fold. He has not expressed remorse nor made amends for undermining the PRS candidate in Tamin. According to the source, his relationship with other state assemblymen is also estranged.

On a personal level, Entulu did not attempt to improve his relationship with Masing.

“Entulu did not even turn up when Masing’s mother passed away. Recently, when Masing’s father-in-law passed away, Entulu also did not make any diplomatic effort to mend the relationship. He was said to be ‘busy’,” the source revealed.

Looking at how events have unfolded, Entulu’s chances of standing as a BN candidate, like Mawan, is coming to nil if they were to rely on the decision of their “Presidents”.

However, both of them seem to be equally confident that they may be chosen as the candidates, no doubt by putting their hopes on a higher power — BN Chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his deputy chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

While both the BN Chairman and Deputy Chairman have more or less decided to ask Mawan to call it a day as a BN Candidate, nothing has been said of Entulu, which makes it so much more intriguing.

According to a political observer, having been a Federal Minister for many years, Entulu is rumoured to be ‘very close’ to both the BN Chairman and his Deputy. The source added that should Entulu use his federal connections, Masing might face an uphill battle in dropping Entulu as a candidate. Described as open-minded and educated, Entulu is a well respected figure among NGOs in Sarawak including Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) and Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S). Based on observation, should Entulu be dropped, these NGOs will not take the news with smiles on their faces.

As seasoned politicians, both Mawan and Entulu have kept their poise even in this current climate of political uncertainty. While the news of Mawan not being renominated has come from the PDP President with the support of the BN Chairman and BN Deputy Chairman, the decision over Entulu’s candidacy remains uncertain.

Although no one can be certain until the letter of endorsement is received or a formal public announcement is made, one thing is for sure — that both of these ‘homeless’ politicians have crossed the point of no return when it comes to the unwritten rules of BN and its component parties. — DayakDaily