Cabinet composition ‘slap in the face’ for Sarawakians, says analyst

Jeniri Amir says this is the first time that Sarawak is represented at the federal level by one minister and one deputy minister.

PETALING JAYA: A political analyst has described the Pakatan Harapan federal cabinet lineup as a “slap in the face” for Sarawakians, and that it could cost the pact in coming elections in the state.

Speaking to FMT, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak analyst Jeniri Amir said this was the first time since 1963 that Sarawak was only represented at the federal level by one minister and one deputy minister.

“This is also the first time that there are no Iban or Malay-Melanau representatives in the cabinet. This doesn’t augur well for Pakatan Harapan.”

Iban’s are reportedly the single largest community in Sarawak, making up some 30% of the state’s population.

Jeniri noted that Sarawak PH contributed 12 parliamentary seats and only got one ministerial post, while PPBM which contributed 13 parliamentary seats received five ministerial posts, excluding Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“They could have included Saratok MP Ali Biju, an Iban, in the cabinet but they didn’t. They should appoint a senator from the Malay-Melanau community to be part of the cabinet.

“PH says it wants to offer Sabah and Sarawak a better deal, to honour the Malaysian Agreement 1963, but the appointments are a slap in the face to Sarawak PH, especially Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen.”

Jeniri said Chong was a much more senior leader than PPBM’s Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, yet was only made a deputy while newbie Syed Saddiq was made a full minister.

He noted that Chong wasn’t just the state DAP chief, but had also struggled against the BN for much longer than Syed Saddiq, playing a vital role in Sarawak PH’s growth in the state.

“This will upset Sarawakians, it will make it tougher for PH in the coming elections as it sends a signal that Sarawakians are sidelined., marginalised and second class,” he said, adding Gabungan Parti Sarawak would likely exploit it to their advantage.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Pawi said he believed the cabinet appointments reflected a “carrot and stick” approach to encourage voters to give more support to PH in the future.

“So if Sarawakians want more ministers from the state from different ethnicities, then they have to support PH. If the support for PH is low, then there will be fewer positions in the PH government.”

Yesterday DAP Youth chief Wong Kah Woh questioned the new Cabinet lineup which features only six ministers from the party, despite them winning the second most parliamentary seats in the May 9 polls.

Prior to that, the remaining cabinet ministers and deputy ministers took their oath before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V at Istana Negara.