Monday, December 5, 2022

The onus is on Najib to prove that he does not marginalise Sarawak

Secara Rawak

The reactions from Sarawakians of all walks of life were spontaneous when Alexander Nanta Linggi was not elevated to a minister in the Najib Razak cabinet reshuffle announced early this week.

Alexander is the current deputy of rural and regional development, the position which he has held since May 13, 2013 after he was re-elected in the Kapit parliamentary constituency in the general election of the same year.

That he was not elevated to a minister, in the words of many Sarawakians, was a great disappointment.

He has been speculated to be a federal minister after Douglas Uggah Embas resigned as minister of plantations and commodities upon his appointment as a deputy chief minister by Chief Minister Adenan Satem.

Uggah was elected the state assemblyman for Bukit Saban in the state election on May 7.

According to PBB secretary general Stephen Rundi Utom, Alexander was nominated by the party to take over from Uggah in the federal cabinet.

His promotion, therefore, should be justified considering that being a PBB vice president, Alexander is also a senior parliamentarian.

He was first elected as the Kapit member of parliament in the 1999 general election and in the general elections held in 2004 and 2008, he was returned unopposed.

In the 2013 general election, Alexander retained the Kapit parliamentary seat, defeating Ramli Malaka of the DAP by 9,731 votes.

It is a big question mark why he was not appointed the full minister, the post he should rightly deserve.

Prime Minister Najib Razak must have his own reasons for not elevating Alexander, and whatever  his reasons are, many Sarawakians are not buying it.

Why was Najib picking someone from Malaya to replace Uggah,  and surely the Sarawakians, especially the Dayak community and PBB members,  would want to know?

It is not just the ordinary rakyat who want a good explanation from Najib, but also leaders of the component parties of the Barisan Nasional.

Uggah, who is Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) senior vice-president, joined fellow Sarawakians expressing his disappointment with Najib for not picking an MP from Sarawak as a full minister.

He felt that Alexander is qualified to be a minister.

Outspoken  James Masing, PRS president and another Deputy Chief Minister, was also not happy with the prime minister.

Up to now, we have yet to hear  a word from the prime minister for not appointing Alexander as minister,  except from Deputy Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg who said that Najib wanted to give Selangor Umno chief Noh Omar a place in the federal cabinet, to represent Selangor.

Why must Sarawak be sacrificed so Selangor can have someone as its representative in the federal cabinet?

There are more Umno ministers in the federal cabinet than the number of ministers from other parties put together. Surely, the prime minister cannot add more to the number.

Noh Omar was appointed minister for urban wellbeing, housing and local government in the Najib cabinet.

But take a look at the other new appointments.

Of the new ministers, Mah Siew Keong, Gerakan president, appointed as the new plantation industry and commodities minister.

Second Finance Minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah quit his post due to “personal reasons” and was replaced by Johari Abdul Ghani.

Abdul Rahman Dahlan was put in charge of the Economic Planning Unit in the Prime Minister’s Department.

And there were the appointments for the posts of deputy ministers.

The appointments are  benefitting Umno more as seen by the fact that more Umno men are picked by Najib, at the expense of Sarawak – the declared Barisan Nasional’s fixed deposit state.

Perhaps, he is trying to strengthen Umno and his position amid speculation that  the general election could be held as early as next year, encouraged by the victories in the recent two by-elections in Malaya and a landslide victory in the Sarawak state election in May.

But Najib forgot that the Sarawak Barisan Nasional’s landslide victory in the state election has very little to do with him.

It has a lot to do with Chief Minister Adenan Satem and his pragmatic policies.

I am not sure whether Sarawak Barisan Nasional could have won 72 out of 82 seats in the May election if Adenan had not come up with those policies and actions for all Sarawakians.

Sarawakians who voted for the Barisan Nasional in the state election may not necessary be voting for the Barisan Nasional again in the general election.

Before casting votes for the Barisan Nasional, Sarawakians will look and observe Najib as a person, the prime minister and leader of the country.

The general election is very important for him, Umno and Barisan Nasional.

If the opposition parties win more parliamentary seats to enable them to capture the federal government, Najib may find himself sitting on the opposition bench. Nothing is impossible in politics.

In Sarawak, he has to clear the air that the federal government does not marginalise Sarawak in terms of appointments to federal posts, the allocation for development infrastructural projects, among others.

All promises made in the last state election must be fulfilled before the general election is held.

Only then Sarawakians may consider voting for the Barisan Nasional. –

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