Will PRS president James Masing kowtow to Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party's 'covert' demand to purge Julau MP Joseph Salang?.
KUCHING: Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), a component member of the Barisan Nasional, is increasingly under pressure to look for a new candidate to contest in the Julau parliamentary seat as the campaign to oust Joseph Salang mounts.
Salang is Julau MP and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party vice chairman Wong Judat, who is also Meluan assemblyman, is hellbent on seeing him purged from his seat.
Salang, who is one of PRS vice-presidents and currently holds the post of Deputy Information, Communications and Culture Minister, has been representing the constituency since 1990.
If his nomination is approved by the BN leadership, Salang is going for his fourth-term.
But powerful and influential Judat wants him replaced by another PRS member, failing which he and his supporters will go all out to ensure Salang’s defeat.
For the past two years, Judat has been carrying out a ‘campaign of hate’ against Salang, accusing him of being indifferent and bias towards his (Judat’s) constituency in the distribution of minor rural development projects, taking away projects meant for the Meluan constituency and of being arrogant.
Like other BN members of parliament, Salang is given an annual grant of RM500,000 to service his constituency, and this year alone, the election year, each MP is to receive RM1.5 million.
Judat wants some part of the MP funds to be distributed to his Meluan constituency. He also accused Salang of being an ‘outsider’ who does not know the problems of the people in the interior.
Judat has even brought his complaint to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak during the latter’s Gawai Dayak visit to SPDP President William Mawan’s longhouse on June 3, 2012.
Although details of their discussion were not known, Najib was said to have asked Judat what were his complaints against Salang.
Not all in Julau support Judat
According to Judat’s aides, Judat was reported to have told Najib that the majority of 11,487 voters in his constituency (Meluan) which forms one part of the Julau Parliamentary constituency do not want Salang and if he is nominated to defend the seat, they expect to vote against him.
“If you want BN to win in Julau, Salang must be replaced,” Judat had reportedly told Najib.
Of course not many Tuai Rumah (longhouse chiefs) and longhouse folk share the views expressed by Judat.
Infact some of the chieftains are fed-up with Judat who has been trying to spite and condemn Salang in any given opportunity in the longhouses.
Tuai Rumah John Okin together with almost all the longhouse chiefs and their representatives in the Meluan polling district disassociated themselves with the views expressed by Judat and pledged full support for Salang.
Okin, who is also chairman of SPDP Meluan branch said: “Contrary to some allegations, Salang is still the most winnable candidate in the Julau parliamentary constituency.
“We will be united in fighting anyone from the opposition who may harbour thoughts of contesting against him,” he said, pointing out that the constituency would not only lose Salang, but also lose the post of Deputy Information, Communications and Culture Minister.
“Who knows Salang may be promoted to a full-fledged minister if he is elected for the fourth-term, and his promotion may bring greater benefits to the people of Julau,” he added.
Salang now needs Mawan
Salang was first elected on a Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak ticket in 1990, and in 2004 he was re-elected even though all the forces of Barisan Nasional (PBB, SPDP and PRS) including state civil service were against him.
When PBDS was deregistered in October 2004, Salang joined PRS in 2006.
In the 2008 general election, Salang improved his majority from 2,688 votes obtained in 2004 to 7,584 votes defeating a PKR candidate Ambrose Labang.
For now, PRS is firm on its decision to retain Salang.
“We have nominated only Salang to defend the Julau seat,” said Senator Doris Brodie, a member of the party’s election selection committee, while the party boss James Masing warned outsiders not to interfere with their recommendation.
For Salang to win, he has to depend on the two SPDP state seats – Meluan and Pakan (held by SPDP president William Mawan) – which form the Julau parliamentary constituency.
Now, he cannot rely on Judat to support him for obvious reasons. He has to depend on Mawan.
Mawan, on his part, has pledged full support to Salang’s candidacy.
Can Salang rely on Mawan’s support to win in the face of strong opposition not only against Salang, but also against BN in Julau?
At least in the coming election Julau is likely to see a three-cornered fight – BN-PRS, Sarawak Workers Party and Pakatan Rakyat.