The next general election may see more of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud's party members contesting under the banner of SPDP, PRS or even SUPP.
In fact word has it, that party president William Mawan may now be faced with a bigger and more complex problem.
The five have declared themselves BN friendly and whilst they may be out of SPDP, they are not out of Barisan Nasional. They were all elected under a BN ticket, albeit under SPDP banner.
The question sifting through the party’s rank and file is: ‘Does Mawan have the political mettle, skill and courage to deal with this ‘new’ challenge’?
Because Mawan will be up against a political megamind – Taib Mahmud.
Will he dare face-off with Taib?
The four ex-SPDP assemblymen – Sylvester Entri (Marudi), Peter Nansian (Tasik Biru), Rosey Yunus (Bekenu), Paulus Gumbang (Batu Danau) and the MP for Mas Gading Tiki Lafe are not ordinary elected representatives.
They are ‘PBB men” planted in SPDP and allegedly backed by Taib. PBB or Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu is Taib’s political vehicle.
Following their expulsion, they are now going to register a BN club with the Registrar of Societies to justify or sustain them as BN representatives.
This will also ensure that they continue to receive minor rural projects for their respective constituencies.
Mawan refuses to acknowledge the club as a political entity.
But that is his problem. The five have Taib’ s blessings to start the club.
Once registered, the BN club has the legal entity of a political party. In other words, Mawan cannot say that they are ‘partyless’.
This will justify Taib’s decision to retain Entri, Nansian and Rosey as assistant ministers.
The appointment of Paulus Gumbang as chairman of the Miri Port Authority effective next month is the latest indication that Taib is not supporting Mawan.
The chairmanship of the authority has always been allocated to SPDP.
Mawan recommended his own man to replace Rosey who has been appointed assistant minister.
But Mawan’s recommendation was rejected indicating again that SPDP is now ‘powerless’.
The formation of the BN club has two immediate effects:
Under the BN spirit of understanding, Mawan should oppose it. But does he have the courage to protest?
If he is strong enough to defend the rights of SPDP in BN, it is possible that the seats may be returned to the party.
Taib may chose to re-use the formula he adopted to solve the problems between SNAP and Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) in the 1983 state election.
In this formula, both parties were allowed to use their own symbols for a ‘free-for-all’ in the disputed constituencies.
Setting a precedent
PBDS which broke away from SNAP demanded to contest in 16 state seats. SNAP strongly opposed them.
In order to show which of the two had the support of the people, Taib then proposed a ‘free-for-all’ in the disputed seats. Both SNAP and PBDS won eight seats each.
But the ‘danger’ in this solution is that the BN leadership may be forced to take sides in the midst of the electioneering as it did to PBDS.
After all BN has nothing to lose. Whichever party wins is still a victory for Barisan Nasional.
The party which allies itself with BN would also see financial and logistical support from the Barisan Nasional.
But such an action would further worsen the animosity between the two parties and this can cause a major problem for BN.
Secondly, with the formation of the club, every time there are internal problems in a Barisan Nasional component party, the disgruntled members may quit the party and join the BN Club.
The BN club would set a precedent. This is the danger the Barisan Nasional coalition may face later on.
Such scenario can happen to any party in the Barisan Nasional. It can even happen to PBB itself.
What would Taib say if PBB members who are not happy with him quit the party and join the club?
Then there are the seven elected representatives from Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP0 who are also in limbo.
Fear of political backlash
The six are – former SUPP deputy secretary general Wong Soon Koh (Bawang Asan) Tiong Thai King (MP for Sibu), Ranom Mina (Opar assemblyman), Jerip Susil (Bengoh), Francis Harden (Simanggang), Johnichal Rayong (Engkilili) and Lee Kim Shin (Senadin).
In the event that SUPP is deregistered due to breaches in party elections or if they are unable to reconcile with the newly elected president Peter Chin, Wong and his group have made it very clear that they will not form a new party for the time being.
It is, however, possible they may join the BN club and remain BN friendly.
As a UNIMAS lecturer Jeneri Amir said: “By allowing individuals who have been sacked from a Barisan component party to form or join a BN club, the implications are far-reaching.
“If such a club is being condoned by BN, It will create confusion, cause splits and weaken the coalition,” he said.
For the coming general election, it is anticipated by other leaders of BN component parties that more ‘PBB people’ will be contesting under the banner of SPDP, PRS or even SUPP.
This is based on what Taib said that he alone will determine who will be the winnable candidates.
For the time being no one dares to speak out their minds for fear of political backlash, but murmurs of dissatisfaction have getting louder in SPDP.
“What is the point of having our own political parties with our own presidents, if they cannot nominate their own party members to be candidates?
“We may as well dissolve our parties and join PBB or even join the Opposition?” said an angry senior SPDP leader who did not wish to be identified.