Will Manyin’s retirement appease the Bidayuhs?

Datuk Amar Michael Manyin Jawong

Commentary

By Peter Sibon

The recent conferment of the ‘Datuk Amar Bintang Kenyalang’ award which carries the title of ‘Datuk Amar’ on Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Michael Manyin Jawong has been widely perceived as a golden handshake for this illustrious son of Kampung Piching, Serian.

This current Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting would most probably be the last time he will be attending the august House.

According to reliable sources, Manyin will retire and will not contest in the upcoming state election which must be held by Aug 6, 2021 as the DUN’s current term expires on June 6 and thereafter, there is a grace period of 60 days for the state election to be held.


Manyin, a former educator, left his profession to contest in the state election for the Tebedu constituency in 1996 which he won, and has held since then.

As the first Bidayuh to obtain his Masters of Arts (MA), Manyin is well respected within the Bidayuh community, even during his days as a school principal in Serian, Bau and finally at Datuk Patinggi Abang Haji Abdillah College, Kuching before he retired early at the age of 52.

Now, 76, Manyin, who is Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB)’s senior-vice president is one of the oldest lawmakers in Sarawak.

With his vast experience in education and as a lawmaker, surely his services will still be needed by the state government even after he retires from active politics.

Manyin started his political career on a very high note, after he was appointed as an assistant minister soon after winning the Tebedu seat in 1996.

After the state election in 2001, he was appointed as a full minister, taking over the portfolio of Housing from the late Tan Sri Celestine Ujang Jilan who did not seek reelection that year due to poor health.

Since then, Manyin has been part of the state cabinet holding various portfolios. Besides Housing, he was a former Minister of Infrastructure Development and Communications, Minister of Tourism, and Minister of Solidary, Youth and Sports before he assumed his current post.

For the record, he is only the second Bidayuh to have been appointed as a cabinet member after Nelson Kundai Ngaren in the 70’s.

After assuming his full ministerial post in 2001 and his appointment as the chief advisor of the Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA), Manyin has been widely regarded as the Bidayuh community’s paramount chief.

As DBNA’s chief advisor, he painstakingly took it upon himself to engage with the community and devise a blueprint to ensure that the Bidayuh will not be left behind in terms of basic amenities such as roads, water, electricity and most importantly, in education.

Manyin’s achievements in leading the Bidayuh community is exemplary and unpreceded. One of his major contributions to the community is the completion and current upgrading of the DBNA headquarters along Jalan Ong Tiang Swee here in Kuching, which is held up as the community’s symbol of success in embracing modernisation.

However, he encountered a major political hiccup in the last general election when his pick for the Puncak Borneo seat Genot Sinel (Jeannoth Sinel) failed to win under a Barisan Nasional (BN) ticket, after he lost to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) candidate Willie Mongin in a three-conered fight.

Under his watch, BN also lost in Mas Gading (Bau/Lundu), when its candidate Datuk Anthony Nogeh Gumbek lost to Mordi Bimol from Democratic Action Parti (DAP).

With Manyin said to be out of the picture in the coming state election, a gleaming question arises: will the Bidayuh regroup under Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), which comprises former BN component parties?

Political pundits believed that with Manyin’s departure from the political scene, GPS stands a much better chance of retaining the eight Bidayuh majority seats, namely Opar, Tasik Biru, Serembu, Mambong, Tarat, Bukit Semuja, Kedup and Tebedu.

Currently all eight seats are under GPS except for Opar, as its assemblyman Datuk Ranum Mina opted to join Parti Bersatu Sarawak (PSB). — DayakDaily