The political wisdom of Abang Jo

Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg

Commentary

State Barisan Nasional (BN) unveiled its candidate list for the 14th General Election this morning at Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu headquarters in Kuching. And it is today that state BN chairman Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg showcased his cool demeanour and political wisdom which impressed many.

At the announcement, one could not help but notice the sincere and genuine smiles on the faces of component party presidents and their relaxed body language. It was evident that the list was one that everyone was pleased with.

True enough after the function proper, during the impromptu media interviews that followed, both Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing voiced their gratitude to Abang Johari, for his trust, confidence and respect the latter has for each component party, big and small.

As presidents of parties, no one likes external interference because as top leaders, they are responsible and answerable to all their leaders and members. If their decisions are not respected and constantly overridden, in the long run, they will lose their credibility as party presidents.


Abang Johari seems to understand this and was willing to listen. He not only listened but followed up with appropriate action. This can be clearly seen from the fact that he duly returned the Saratok seat to PDP and readily accepted the candidate list proposed by the party.

Compare to the unveiling of candidates during the 2016 state election, it was a world of difference between the reaction of Tiong then and today.

Not only did Abang Johari return the seat to PDP, he also stayed away from interfering in PRS’ recent “storm in a teacup” where the party unexpectedly expelled five of its leaders including its senior leaders Selangau incumbent Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun and Lubok Antu incumbent Datuk William Nyallau Badak.

Instead of making the situation worse by taking sides in this “party feud”, Abang Johari wisely left room for the party to resolve its last-minute erupting internal dispute, which the party did.

Since taking over from the late Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, Abang Johari has been channeling his energy towards creating a digital economy and fighting for Sarawak’s rights, that he did not have time to showcase his political wisdom.

Today was the first time the general public and political analysts had a good chance to take a good look at his wisdom.

While Adenan failed to solve the impasse and long standing contention between Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) and its splinter party United People’s Party, Abang Johari managed somehow.

When the two parties came together to sign an MOU on March 23 which had no legal binding power, many laughed at Abang Johari. But today, he has the final laugh.

Abang Johari who has been keeping his cards close to his chest finally showed his hand and surprised everyone that he had convinced UPP to stand under one banner – SUPP. That is indeed his greatest political achievement to date. He succeeded where others have failed.

If there is any bone to pick about Abang Johari’s list, perhaps it would be the fact that there are three state assemblymen who are in the list. These three state assemblymen who are all from SUPP — Batu Kawah assemblyman Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting and Repok assemblyman Dato Sri Huang Tiong Sii.

Abang Johari had said before that he would stick to the principle of no overlapping between state assemblymen and parliamentarians, but today, he has allowed this to happen. Even though this can be explained by the fact that the three have a much higher chance of wresting back the lost urban seats of Stampin, Miri and Sarikei, and that state BN is desperate to win back these Chinese majority urban seats.

However, a principle is a principle and this is the only point Abang Johari could be penalised on concerning his candidate list! — DayakDaily