Saturday March 22, 2008
PRS MPs pledge support to Abdullah
KUCHING: The face-to-face meeting between the six Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Dayak MPs and Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Friday to pledge their full support for his leadership should now put to rest the rumours of any of them crossing to the opposition camp.
PRS president Datuk Dr James Masing said during the meeting, the six MPs had assured the Prime Minister of their solid backing.
The six were Deputy Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum (Julau), Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Joseph Entulu Belaun (Selangau), Aaron Dagang (Kanowit), Billy Abit Joo (Hulu Rejang), Willam Nyallau Badak (Lubok Antu) and Masir Kujat (Sri Aman).
Dr Masing, who is Sarawak Land Development Minister, said none of the six MPs had been approached to cross over to the opposition.
“The rumours are rubbish. All our MPs are very strong principled politicians,” he said.
Dr Masing, who led the six MPs in meeting Abdullah, believed the rumours were spread as a political game based on the herd mentality, and used to hopefully get Barisan MPs to switch camps.
“The Dayak community want more representation in the federal Cabinet but this does not mean that we do not support the Prime Minister.
“I am disappointed with the Dayak’s under-representation, and I have discussed with the Prime Minister of increased representation.
“The Prime Minister said he will consider it after he has settled the priority matters,” added Dr Masing.
He said under-representation and support were two different issues, adding that only immature politicians would lump the two together.
Besides Salang and Entulu, the other Dayaks in the new federal Cabinet are Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah (from Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu), Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan and Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Jelaing Mersat (both from Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party).
Out of the 30 Sarawak Barisan MPs, 14 are Dayaks who make up more than 40% of the state’s 2.3mil population.
There are Dayak MPs in all the four state Barisan parties – PRS, SPDP, PBB and Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP).
Meanwhile, SUPP president Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said yesterday that arrangement was being made for its Serian MP Datuk Richard Riot Jaem to meet with Abdullah.
Riot has dismissed rumours that he was quitting the SUPP because he was not appointed to the federal Cabinet.