SIBU: Ngemah, a tug-of-war seat between Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) over the last five months, is hogging the limelight again.
The tussle for the interior seat was resolved early this month when Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud reaffirmed the Sarawak BN supreme council’s earlier decision that the seat as well as Belaga had been allocated to the largely-rural Dayak-based PRS.
However, the SPDP’s claim for the seat resurfaced when incumbent assemblyman Gabriel Adit, a vice-president of the deregistered Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS), joined the party in December last year.
This time, the PRS, an offshoot of PBDS, found itself “at the centre of a storm” with problems on the choice of its candidates for the May 20 election.
Ngemah division vice-chairman Mathew Sembilan said six names were nominated for the seat as early as in November last year.
Owing to intense lobbying by individual nominees, a selection committee headed by deputy president Datuk Sng Chee Hua was formed, with the members comprising division committee members and local community leaders.
Mathew said the selection panel shortlisted the nominees and picked Warren Aris, 53, a school principal, for the seat.
He said the selection was made through secret balloting on Nov 26 last year at a gathering here. Warren secured the highest votes.
“However, for some unknown reasons, Warren did not seem to enjoy our president’s endorsement.
“We understand that Dr Masing has submitted the name of another candidate who did not meet the expectations of our committee and local community leaders and representatives of the various BN component parties,” he said.
Mathew said the candidate favoured by Dr Masing, his relative from Nanga Bawan in Kanowit, was not that popular among the party’s grassroots supporters.
He claimed, based on the feedback received from various sources on the ground, Warren was the preferred choice.
“That is why I was only trying to convey the sentiments on the ground when I announced in the press that we only supported Warren for the candidacy,” he said.
Mathew’s statement was rebuked by Dr Masing, who said that Mathew did not have the authority to speak on behalf of the party.
“He is only a division vice chairman. His words carry no weight. Only Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud as the state BN head can decide on the BN candidates,” he said.
In defending his stand, Mathew said it was unfortunate that the established party procedures and channels were ignored in the selection of the best candidate for Ngemah.
“I’m upset the party leadership has scant respect for the task entrusted upon the selection panel which it had earlier endorsed,” he added. – Bernama