If the applications of the nine state assemblymen (including one state assemblywomen) to join Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) are approved, Sarawak might witness a new political landscape with PBB emerging as the dominant party.
The nine are Rosey Yunus (Bekenu), Paulus Ngumbang (Batu Danau), William Mawan Ikom (Pakan), Jerip Jusil (Mambong), Ranum Mina (Opar), Johnical Rayong (Engkilili), Miro Simuh (Serembu), John Ilus (Bukit Semuja) and Gerawat Gala (Mulu).
Rosey, Paulus and Mawan were from the now defunct Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak (Teras) which was a splinter party from Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP). Jerip, Mina and Johnical are from United People’s Party (UPP), a breakaway party from Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) while Miro, John and Gerawat are former PBB members. All the nine had resigned from their respective parties to contest as BN direct candidates.
They have every right to apply for PBB membership because before the state election Chief Minister Adenan Satem had given assurance that they could apply to join any one of the existing component parties should they win their seats.
The nine will know their fate when the PBB supreme council meets on June 5. The likelihood is that they will be accepted because they are all bringing their seats with them to PBB. If assemblymen are not allowed to bring their seats when they move, their chances of being taken in by another party will be very slim.
PBB is a composition of two factions – Bumiputera and Pesaka. Bumiputera is the dominant faction which makes up of Malay and Melanau Muslim members while the Pesaka faction consists of Dayak members.
Presently, PBB has 40 seats with its Bumiputera faction taking up 29 seats while the remaining nine go to its Pesaka faction. Rosey is likely to be absorbed into the Bumiputera section, pushing it to 30 while the eight Dayak assemblymen will move into Pesaka, raising its tally to 19.
With 49 out of 82 seats in the state legislative assembly, it is crystal clear that PBB can rule Sarawak on its own. With Adenan as a moderate leader, it is likely that decisions will still be made through the process of consultation and consensus among the BN component members.
However, it will not stop PBB from making arbitrary decisions whenever and wherever necessary.
Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president James Masing had raised this problem before the state election when BN direct candidates were first proposed. He foresaw a scenario that the BN candidates would all scramble to enter PBB after winning the election, giving it the absolute mandate to rule Sarawak on its own.
But tell me, which political party worth its salt will not want to strengthen itself if it has the chance to do so, especially when fortune comes knocking on its door?
Whether it is through fate or by grand design, the impasse between the warring factions of SPDP and Teras, and between SUPP and UPP had given PBB the licence to use the BN direct method to its full advantage. Hence, SUPP and SPDP had themselves to blame for the mess they are in, while PRS was just an unfortunate bystander.
Meanwhile, Teras had announced that all its members, purportedly at 25,000, would be moving to PBB while UPP is still whining and shouting as though it is a component party of the state BN.
As a matter of fact, Dayaks in general have no problem with those Dayak assemblymen applying to join PBB. After all, this augurs well for Dayak unity as those assemblymen will beef up the strength of PBB’s Pesaka section.
PBB can still take in the four assemblymen from SPDP if it really wants to but certainly not the 11 assemblymen from PRS otherwise its Bumiputera section will lose its voice.
But then again, its Bumiputera section could always bend the rules to take in Dayak members in order to neutralise Dayak supremacy in the party. It could even change its constitution to allow for Chinese membership. Then SUPP could be the Chinese wing of PBB.
As it is, Adenan’s life will not be a bed of roses. Despite PBB being the dominant party, he must make sure that the interests of PRS, SUPP and SPDP are all well-looked after. If any of the other component parties feel that they are being side-lined or have become irrelevant, it may cause anger and dissatisfaction.
If they are pushed to the wall, they might even take the drastic action of pulling out of the state BN and become an opposition. They might not want to be stuck in a rut but look for greener pastures at the other side of the fence where they have the freedom to contest all the 82 seats.