Dr Patau Rubis was laid to rest next to his parents’ graves at the SDA Christian cemetery in Bau last Wednesday afternoon.
“It was his wish that he be buried next to his parents,” his son, Sean, said before Dr Patau was laid to rest.
Dr Patau, 70, lost consciousness suddenly while chairing his party, Sarawak Reform Party (STAR) annual general meeting on Sunday, March 20. He died one hour later at the Sarawak General Hospital.
As a civil servant, he led a successful life. From a humble beginning, he rose to become the deputy director of Sarawak Medical Department in 1982.
In 1983, he quit his government post to contest in Tasik Biru on the SNAP ticket. He won, defeating Patrick Anek Uren of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS).
He retained Tasik Biru in the 1987 and 1991 elections on SNAP-BN ticket, but lost the seat to Peter Nansian Ngusie of SNAP-BN in 1996 as an Independent candidate.
The 1996 election was held a few months before STAR, which he founded, was registered with the Registrar of Societies.
Patau rose up fast
Patau was elected a member of parliament for Mas Gading for three terms when he was with SNAP. He first won the seat in in the 1986 general election. He retained the seat in 1990 and 1995 elections.
In SNAP, he rose up fast. He became its Youth chief after a while in the party.
After the 1987 state election, Patau was made an assistant minister for his loyalty to SNAP and the Barisan.
It was claimed that it was Patau who persuaded then party president James Wong not to join Rahman Yaakob and Leo Moggie to oppose Taib Mahmud during a constitutional crisis what was then known as Ming Court Affairs – so called because the rebel group then was using Ming Court Hotel as its base to plan political strategies against the Taib regime.
After the 1987 election, Taib appointed Patau as an assistant minister which he held until he was sacked in 1995 for allegedly helping an Independent candidate in Serian.
SNAP was ordered by the State Barisan to conduct an investigation against Patau, but found no evidence.
Although Patau was found innocent, the State Barisan still insisted that he be sacked from the party.
Nevertheless, SNAP still sacked him. James Wong still believed that Patau, then SNAP senior vice president, was not guilty of any wrongdoing.
Wong had groomed Patau to take over as SNAP president one day.
Patau shaved his head for three years
Taib dismissed Patau as an assistant minister after he was sacked from SNAP.
Although he had forgiven those who were involved in sacking him from SNAP and as assistant minister, Patau had not forgotten that he was wrongly accused of doing something he had never committed.
As a reminder that he was innocence of any wrongdoing, he shaved his head for three years.
He used to tell his friends:”They are out to prosecute me because of my strong political belief. “
Indeed, it is his honesty that brought his downfall in politics.
His political rivals and friends felt uncomfortable when he talked straight to their faces. He did not withhold anything on his mind. That was one of his weaknesses.
Taib Mahmud did not like him. He dared to go against the chief minister. Both were hot-headed.
In fact, two had bad relationship for many years.
Despite his sacking from the government, Patau did not show he bore grudges against Taib, according to his close friends.
After his sacking from SNAP and the government, Patau formed STAR with his close friends. His dream was for STAR to be a strong opposition party. But the dream had not materialised.
Instead, STAR has almost become a non-existence and irrelevant party.
Patau’s dream for STAR to be a strong party may be achieved, one day, only if it there are enough educated and committed people willing to come forward and do things which Patau was unable to do in life time.
He used to tell his supporters:”If you are ready, I am ready to lead.” His appeal to the general public had been lukewarm. To his close friends and rivals, such statement is not attractive enough. It is more than that to get people to support your vision.
Lack of response
One reason for the lack of response is people are more willing to associate themselves with the ruling party. The people find it more beneficial to join the ruling party, instead of a party which has small followings and little influence.
Here is where Patau has failed. STAR is not attractive enough. It will take a great effort to revive the party. Perhaps, a new and dynamic leader will do that. But the way I see it, I do not see any one emerging at this moment.
Writing on his Blog “For Better Future” on Dec 31, 2013, he said: “Now I am the president of STAR. I have been in the Opposition Party the last twelve years and will continue to do so while waiting for the younger generation to be more concerned in making politics, a just way of life.”
He continued:”I know about all the unhappiness but till now none have taken it seriously like I did so far. There is no point to complain and do nothing. I dare to fight for what is right for twelve years and I am still waiting for a real Iban “Patau” who can stand head to head with me and dare to die for what we believe in, our rights, our land …..
“I joined SNAP for its multiracial struggle and its stand “Sarawak for Sarawakians.” I was forced by SNAP leaders to form STAR in 1995.
The third force
“In STAR we have moved for a higher ideal, “That we shall have Bangsa Malaysia, where Sarawakians and Sabahans are treated as Bangsa Malaysia.” – not where the natives of Sarawak and Sabah are considered as “OTHERS”, even behind the Indians in the order of rights and privileges.
“Being unhappy and looking for others to soothe our woes is not the way to resolve any problem. Working together under STAR and dare to strive till death do us apart. Our woes can only be resolved by and on our own. STAR should be the vehicle. We should then become the Third Force to work for a better future with our own blood and tears,” he wrote- Sarawakvoice.com.