by Special Writer
The NGO does not want the Dayak in particular, the majority community, denied both the chief minister’s and governor’s posts in Sarawak.
KUALA LUMPUR: Aum Besai Dayak Selangor (ABD), a Dayak NGO in the Kelang Valley Region, wants a non-Muslim governor after Taib Mahmud’s term as governor expires after a term.
The NGO recalled, during an exclusive interview, that a political agreement in 1963 called for a Dayak chief minister if the governor was a Malay and vice versa.
“The agreement was reached between Malayan Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman and Temenggong Jugah anak Barieng, the paramount chief of the Iban,” said an ABD spokeswoman.
The agreement, she said, followed a dispute between Jugah and Tunku over the appointment of the former as the first governor of Sarawak after the British left. “Tunku felt that since Stephen Kalong Ningkan, a Dayak, was chief minister, the first governor should be Malay and not Jugah,” she said. “If the chief minister was Malay, it was agreed the governor would be Dayak.”
The spokeswoman said that after Penghulu Tawi Sli, the second chief minister, the agreement was “ignored” when Abdul Rahman Yakub became the 3rd chief minister. “Since Rahman, Sarawak has had only Muslim chief ministers and governors,” she said.
The spokeswoman was commenting on the on-going debate in the social media on the appointment of deputy chief minister II, Abang Abdul Rahman Johari Openg, as the sixth chief minister.
“The consensus among rural folks is that Douglas Uggah Embas, deputy chief minister I, should have succeeded the late Adenan Satem as chief minister,” said the spokeswoman.
Both Uggah and Johari began in politics at the same time.
She pointed out that 75 per cent of the people of Sarawak were non-Muslim.
“We cannot have a system where the majority community, the Dayak in particular, are denied both the chief minister’s and governor’s posts,” she said.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) concept, as practised in Sarawak, does not give the Dayak even a “fighting chance” to be chief minister, said the spokeswoman.
She was referring to BN sharing state assembly seats among its four component parties, before the elections, with PBB taking the lion’s chunk i.e. 42 of the 82 seats at stake. “In developed democracies, forming a coalition before elections was banned by law,” said the spokeswoman.
The Dayak for example, who form half the population and hold half the seats, can be found in all four BN component parties, she said in raising a crucial issue. “All Muslim lawmakers in BN are in PBB and almost all Chinese in Supp.”
The ideal would be all communities being “equally divided and equally united”, said the spokeswoman “but Putrajaya has long stood in the way of much needed political reforms in Sarawak”.
She agrees that anyone can be chief minister of Sarawak but is against a system where her people are denied the post of head of government, as well as the governor’s post, in “perpetuity”.
Earlier, before Johari’s appointment, ABD called on the state assembly to deliberate on the selection of the chief minister.
It cited the “divide-and-rule” nature of the BN concept making the state assembly the logical avenue to choose the chief minister.