Thursday, March 19, 2009

SNAP to stay out of Batang Ai polls


KUCHING: Sarawak National Party (SNAP) will stay out the April 7 by-election in Batang Ai, its former stronghold.

President Edwin Dundang has confirmed that SNAP was unlikely to field a candidate in order to pave the way for Parti Keadilan Rakyat's (PKR) one-to-one fight with the Barisan Nasional.

"Let me be honest with our members and supporters that we (SNAP) have not made any preparations on the ground for the by-election," he added when asked on Thursday.

Dundang said he had discussed the by-election with the PKR leadership.

He said the party's veterans in Lubok Antu were backing PKR, which is expected to announce its candidate on Sunday. Lubok Antu parliamentary constituency comprises of Batang Ai and Engkilili state seats.

Dundang said SNAP had worked well with PKR and DAP as an opposition alliance in the 2006 state polls and last year's parliamentary election.

The by-election was called following the death of four-term assemblyman Datuk Dublin Unting Ingkot.

SNAP, which produced Sarawak's first Chief Minister in the late Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan, won Batang Ai in 1970 and 1974 on an opposition ticket.

Later, the party joined the state coalition government and retained the seat in 1979 and 1983.

However, SNAP-nominated Barisan Nasional candidate Nicholas Bawin lost the seat to Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak's (PBDS) Mikai Mandau by 83 votes in a three-cornered battle in 1987.

PBDS was formed by a breakaway Dayak elite group from SNAP during a leadership crisis in 1983.

Headed by president Datuk Leo Moggie, PBDS was accommodated in the state Barisan Nasional Plus government but the party opted out of the state coalition and became an opposition in 1987.

After victory, Mikai defected to Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) led by Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.But he failed to defend the seat for the Barisan Nasional when he was ousted by PBDS's Ingkot in 1991.

Later, PBDS rejoined the state coalition, and Ingkot managed to keep the seat in the 1996, 2001 and 2006 polls.

The state Barisan has agreed to field newcomer Malcolm Mussen Lamoh in the by-election. Lamoh is likely to face PKR's Bawin or former five-term Lubok Antu MP Jawah Gerang in the contest.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Umno, a law unto itself — The Malaysian Insider

MARCH 18 — Here’s the thing. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Take Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam’s status for instance. The Umno disciplinary panel found him unfit to contest the party elections but the party elders feel he is more than qualified to remain Melaka Chief Minister.

It makes you wonder at the double standards. He is not good enough to be a senior leader within the party because his agents breached campaign rules. But he is good enough to be chief executive of a state.

Veteran opposition leader Lim Kit Siang said as much in his Facebook status line this morning, “ WHAT?? Not fit to contest as Umno Deputy President but fit to continue as Malacca CM??”

For others, it smacks of a compromise to keep the popular Umno vice-president and his followers happy.

“This is a grand design, something like a bargain,” Datuk Kadar Shah Sulaiman said yesterday about the Umno action against Ali, adding the decision was made in fear that his supporters may walk out of the party.

Former party president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had no such compunction when he cut short Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s meteoric rise and challenge to him by sacking the deputy president in 1998 on corruption and sodomy charges.

Ali’s only consolation is that he is left with his party and government posts. And not further than that although the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has selectively investigated money politics within the dominant Malay nationalist party.

The bigger question is incoming Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s willingness to take on the Herculean task of cleaning Umno’s Stygian stables.

He has said as much to clean up Umno and Dr Mahathir has also put in his two sens’ worth but the disciplinary panel’s actions have shown to be just a sop to the baying calls to rid the party of corruption.

The action yesterday to bar Ali, warn Khairy Jamaluddin and clear Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo speak volumes about Najib’s ability to be an agent of change. Particularly his statement that Ali remains the Melaka chief minister.

It shows that he and others believe that Umno is a law unto itself, scripting its succession plans and leadership in a cabal rather than allowing democracy to flourish within the party and in the country.

Then again, Malaysia has had that since independence.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dr M says Perak grab unlawful

The Malaysian Insider
By Shannon Teoh, Saturday March 14 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — More than a month after Barisan Nasional ousted Pakatan Rakyat from Perak, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said the takeover was not done according to the law.

He said mistakes, bad strategy and carelessness in the Feb 5 power grab, orchestrated by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had led to the current crisis in the state.

"You cannot topple a menteri besar or a prime minister without a no-confidence vote in the assembly. There is no other provision," he said at a function organised by Mubarak, the association for former elected representatives.

"Umno-BN was too careless and did not wait for an assembly but instead asked the Ruler to sack the menteri besar," he said, referring to Sultan Azlan Shah's decision to ask Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin to resign.

"As far as I know, there is no such provision in the Perak or Federal Constitution," he said.

Dr Mahathir said that BN should have done it properly and not "be in conflict with the law" as the courts may now rule that the Sultan has no right to sack a menteri besar.

He added that a Sultan could only reject a candidate for one of his choice after an election but even this candidate could be defeated in the assembly by a vote.

The veteran politician said BN should have "followed the laws of the country, especially the constitution."

"Because this may be in conflict with the law, we find that people will not comply. Because we started on the wrong foot, people are now against us," said Dr Mahathir, who quit Umno last year in a long-running feud with his successor Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The Perak power grab is now mired in a series of lawsuits, with both sides claiming to be the legitimate government.

Six people have also been charged with insulting the Perak Ruler after he backed BN to govern the state. One has pleaded guilty and was fined RM10,000 yesterday while five others claimed trial.

Umno has said those who opposed the Sultan's decision are committing treason.

Monday, March 02, 2009

SNAP president robbed at knife-point

MIRI, March 2 – Two men armed with knives today robbed Sarawak National Party (SNAP) president Edwin Dundang of a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) and mobile phone here.

Dundang, 69, was talking to a reporter on his phone while seated inside his son-in-law’s parked Naza Ria at a road shoulder near Saint Columba’s Kindergarten when the hold-up occurred at 2.25pm.

At the time, he was waiting to pick up his granddaughter from the kindergarten.

While in the midst of talking to the reporter, Dundang heard someone warn him that if he did not alight from the vehicle, he would be killed.

“Fearing for my life, I just got out of the MPV and was confronted by two men. They took away my handphone before escaping in the vehicle,” he added.

Dundang said that despite signalling passing motorists, no one stopped to help.

Eventually, a woman who was fetching her child from the kindergarten, sent him to the central police headquarters to lodge a report.

Dundang was elected SNAP president in May 2003 to succeed Sarawak’s veteran politician Datuk Amar James Wong who helmed the party for 22 years. – Bernama