PBB calls the shots

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  • Wednesday, 27 Jan 2016

IN about a decade of being a reporter in Sarawak, I have only seen big media turnouts at PBB supreme council meetings. There is no other political party in this state that can attract more attention.

At PBB’s most recent supreme council meeting on Sunday, I saw reporters and photographers from every newspaper, television and radio station, plus more than a few from the online news portals.

There, I heard practically every language one can expect to hear at a busy Sarawak market.

The other state Barisan Nasional parties have no where near this level of pull and deciding power. The media pays less attention to supreme council meetings of other parties because we all know the quotes and statements by their leaders could easily be overruled by PBB.

Every reporter here knows PBB is the decider. You cannot afford to miss PBB events because this is where the last chapter always plays out.

Thus it made sense when PRS, after having its candidates list endorsed by PBB, quickly issued a public statement to say so. PRS did not seem to care that the new Samalaju seat (which PRS announced was theirs to contest) was also being eyed by SPDP.

The latest rumour on the grapevine is PBB, as the largest party in Sarawak Barisan, has more or less decided on seat distribution. Talk is that incumbents with the breakaway parties of UPP and Teras would be allowed to defend their seats.

Chief Minister and PBB president Tan Sri Adenan Satem has never distanced UPP and Teras from Barisan. When Adenan took over, he allowed members of the “Barisan friendly” parties to remain in the Cabinet. Adenan has not changed his position on the “Barisan Plus” state government since.

At this late stage in the game, it is beginning to look like SUPP and SPDP would be cajoled into compromising.

A few other big decisions seem to have been made at Sunday’s PBB meet. The most widely reported speculation is the likely retirement of Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang from active politics. Quite a few articles have been published about the hugs Jabu shared with PBB officials at the end of that meeting.

It was also announced at end of the meeting that Adenan had appointed three senior PBB officials to rebut allegations from the Opposition from now on. One of them, PBB supreme council member Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, told reporters:

“Any comment from the Opposition, especially from (Bandar Kuching MP) YB Chong (Chieng Jen), will be handled by us. Let people of our rank address him (Chong). Our CM is too high for him.”

The fact that PBB has not called on Barisan’s own willing urban candidates (perhaps there are too many of them) to defend the government from the Opposition is telling of what the main Barisan party thinks of SUPP, and perhaps UPP too, at this point.

The seat distribution talks must be near an end by now. I would be very surprised if SUPP and SPDP are able to edge out the breakaway parties. Look at how the stronger parties have moved their chess pieces about.

It is no secret PBB can contest at the new seat of Batu Kitang if it wants to, even though SUPP is likely to get the seat. PBB has set up a protem committee there. One wonders if SUPP would be denied the chance to contest Batu Kitang should it refuse to be more accommodating to UPP.

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