Newly registered Sarawak Workers Party is drawing on the strength and popularity of ex-politicos to thwart nemesis Parti Rakyat Sarawak.
KUCHING: Is former Lubok Antu MP, Jawah Gerang, making a political comeback? Curiosity is rippling through the community as Gerang has been seen at almost all Sarawak Workers Party (SWP) function, the most recent being in Sedarat an area in his old home seat.
Alongwith curiosity it appears there is also skepticism over Gerang’s decision to be linked to newly registered SWP whose mission and vision is still blur.
Thus far all the Larry Sng-led SWP has done is to declare itself BN friendly but anti-Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), a BN component. His supporters feel that SWP is using Gerang to launch its assault in Lubok Antu.
They feel that if Gerang is really interested in returning to active politics, he should have joined a more established party such as PKR to pursue his political struggle.
Moreover, he was once a PKR candidate. In the Batang Ai- by-election in April 2009, Gerang contested on a PKR ticket. He was allegedly sponsored by Larry’s father Sng Chee Hua who is now SWP’s de facto leader. Sng had promised to meet all the election expenses incurred by Gerang.
But during the campaign, the majority of Gerang’s election workers were not paid as the money from Sng was inadequate to meet the various expenses such as buying petrol, hiring of boats and vans and paying for the operations rooms.
Even foods for the election workers were insufficient.
Without Gerang’s knowledge, Sng had his own game plan for insisting Gerang to be the candidate.
It was known to all and sundry that Sng, being a gambler, was betting that Gerang was to be the PKR candidate instead of Nicholas Bawin. PKR had earlier agreed that Bawin was to be the candidate for the by-election.
But to the surprise of PKR supporters, Bawin was replaced in the eleventh hour.
As to why Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto leader of PKR, changed his mind and replaced Bawin with Gerang, no one really knew the reason. But there were people who said that it was due to pressure from Sng.
It was alleged that Sng was not really interested whether Gerang was going to win or not. His only interest was to ensure that Gerang became the candidate and to collect his winning bets said to be in the millions of ringgit.
“That is the reason why so many have expressed their surprises to see Gerang in the company of Sng Chee Hua,” said Gerang’s cousin.
Despite his five-term as MP for Lubok Antu and twice winning the seat unopposed, Gerang was trounced by a political novice Malcolm Mussem Lamoh by a 1,854-vote majority in the Batang Ai by-election apparently due to the above reasons – insufficient funds.
Batang Ai is a part of the Lubok Antu parliamentary constituency. The other part is Engkilili.
Following his embarrassing defeat in the by-election which he confidently predicted he could win, Gerang went into self-exile for nearly four years, cutting off communications with the outside world. He has been concentrating on his farm..
Now seen again in Sng’s company, Gerang’s supporters and relatives are also asking whether he is going to contest the Lubok Antu parliamentary constituency or not.
“Many, however, do not agree with the idea of him contesting simply because there are so many issues and so many broken promises that his opponents can say about him during his five terms as MP. They want me to contest,” said a former police officer now turned lawyer Jonathan Jalin.
Jalin is also tipped to contest the seat on a SWP ticket.
SWP ‘using’ Gerang
Jalin is also concerned that Gerang is being ‘used’ as an agent by SWP leaders to settle personal vendetta against PRS leaders not only in Lubok Antu, but also in five other parliamentary seats to be contested by PRS.
The other five seats are Julau, Selangau, Hulu Rajang, Kanowit and Sri Aman.
The enmity between PRS and SWP started from the PRS crisis, when PRS president James Masing expelled most of the current SWP leaders including Sng Chee Hua, Larry, and Dr Ong Lark Sak from PRS in May 2006.
Larry, who was then Assistant Minister became partyless, could not defend his Pelagus seat in the 2011 state election due to strong opposition from PRS leaders. But his uncle George Lagong contested the seat and won as a BN-friendly independent.
With the declared intention of SWP to contest the Lubok Antu seat, Lubok Antu will now likely see a three-cornered fight involving incumbent William Nyalau Badak (PRS), Nicholas Bawin (PKR) and a candidate from SWP.
In Lubok Antu, the Ibans form a majority at 18,172 voters (according to the 2011 electoral rolls).
Lubok Antu has now become one of constituencies to watch in the coming election.