Angry SPDP members have called for the party leaders to pull out of BN over its exclusion from the federal cabinet despite delivering four parliamentary seats.
KUCHING: Angry Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) members across the state have been advised to stay calm and allow its party leaders to query Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s decision to drop them from the federal cabinet.
Najib had, on Wednesday, excluded the party from his cabinet list.
SPDP won all its four parliamentary seats – Anthony Nogeh (Mas Gading), William Mawan Ikom (Saratok), Anyi Ngau (Baram) and Tiong King Sing (Bintulu) – and was expecting to be amply rewarded with one full minister and a deputy or at least two deputies.
In the previous cabinet, SPDP had two deputy ministers. The party had also retained six of the eight state seats it contested in the 2011 Sarawak elections and was thus confident of its ‘clout’.
The last 48 hours saw angry spews by SPDP members calling on the party leadership to review the party’s position in the Barisan Nasional coalition if none of its MPs are included in the cabinet.
SPDP’s exclusion is in direct contrast to peninsular-based MIC’s inclusion. Both parties had won four parliamentary seats.
MIC was rewarded with two full ministers – G Palanivel (Cameron Highlands) and Dr S Subramaniam (Segamat) – and two deputies – M. Saravanan (Tapah) and P Kamalanathan (Hulu Selangor). The party’s dismal performance in 2008 was not bettered in the 2013 general election. It somewhat retained the 2008 status quo.
Then there is Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) which lost all but one parliamentary seat – Serian through Richard Riot – and was also rewarded with a full minister post for Riot.
Speaking to FMT today, SPDP deputy secretary general Paul Igai said: “I cannot blame party members if they are angry, because it is difficult to accept the Prime Minister’s decision.
“It is really shocking to us, as we expected to be given one ministerial post and a deputy ministerial post or at least two deputies.
“I know how the members feel. The party has been excluded from taking part in the federal government.
“They’ve even asked whether it was a deliberate attempt to exclude us or whether it was a gross oversight on the part of the Prime Minister.”
Awaiting news from PM’s Department
Igai, who is also the Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s political secretary, said the party’s top leadership had already got in touch with the Prime Minister’s Department over the issue and is hoping for a solution within a week or two.
“There is still light at the end of the tunnel after we contacted the Prime Minister’s Department, so I appeal to all members to remain calm.
“Let the party leaders settle the issue. We should be able to know the result of our meeting with the Prime Minister in one week or two,” he said.
Igai said that he would be visiting SPDP branches through the state to explain to them and ask them to remain calm.
During the campaign for Nogeh in Mas Gading, SPDP president William Mawan Ikom told a gathering of Bidayuhs that if Nogeh won the seat, he would be recommended to be appointed as deputy minister in the federal cabinet.
He had also told voters that Tiong King Sing could be appointed as a full minister if he won the Bintulu seat.
“Now we have won all our seats, but our victories are not appreciated,” Igai lamented.
Najib’s new cabinet has given extensive clout to Taib’s Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) party.
Of the 11 ministerial positions, seven were set aside for PBB. The balance four was divided between Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and SUPP.
In an immediate reaction yesterday, PRS president James Masing also expressed shock and bewilderment.
He said Najib had been unfair to the Dayak majority parties which had contributed 10 of the 25 parliamentary seats towards the federal Barsian Nasional’s end tally to secure Putrajaya.
Said Masing: “Something is wrong somewhere. The allocations don’t make sense. Parti Pesaka Bumiputera was given four (full) ministers (57%), PRS one (33%) SUPP one (100%) and SPDP has zero (0%). Where’s the fairness?”
PRS was expecting at least one full minister and two deputies. Instead former deputy minister Joseph Salang Gandum was retained as a deputy minister, and transferred to the tourism and culture ministry.
He apparently saw it as a ‘demotion’ from his previous information and communition ministry and has since refused the offer.
Another MP Joseph Entulu was appointed Minister in the PM’s Department but he too is apparently unhappy and has “recluctantly” accepted the post at the behest of Masing.
PRS, which has six MPs, is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting of its supreme council later today to discuss the federal cabinet line-up.
It would also discuss a suitable replacement for Salang and the party’s next move.