KUCHING: A contest is shaping up for the post of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) president following the decision by Datuk Amar Leo Moggie to step down after 20 years at the helm.
Forty-six branches in Sibu and Lundu, which jointly held their general meetings over the weekend, have nominated the party’s information chief Datuk Dr James Masing to run for the number one post and vice-president Datuk Sng Chee Hua for the deputy presidency.
Incumbent deputy president Datuk Daniel Tajem had said publicly earlier that he was prepared to take over from Moggie to lead the party. The PBDS triennial general assembly (TGA) would be held here in September.
Moggie announced a year ago that he would not seek re-election in this year’s party elections. The president's post had never been contested.
A Tajem-Masing showdown would be a repeat of the bitter fight in the 2000 TGA when Tajem, a former High Commissioner to New Zealand, warded off a strong challenge by Dr Masing to keep the deputy presidency he had held since the party was set up in 1983.
All the party’s 206 branches have been directed to hold their meetings before March 31.
Dr Masing, also state Social Development and Urbanisation Minister, is non-committal if he would accept the nomination to go for the presidency.
“I have to see what the party members want, and whether I get the right number of nominations,” he said when asked yesterday.
He said he would make up his mind on the contest after all the branches had had their meetings.
To contest for the president's post, a candidate needs a minimum of 30% of nominations from the branches.
Asked if he would like Sng to be his running mate for the deputy presidency should there be a contest, Dr Masing said it would be up to party delegates to decide.
Ironically in the last party polls, Sng was a key player in Tajem’s camp, which made a clean sweep in all the contested posts in taking on Dr Masing’s group.
Moggie, who is also the Energy, Communications and Multimedia Minister, later appointed Dr Masing and several of his supporters, including state assistant ministers, to the supreme council to keep the party intact.
Asked if he would prefer to see the party’s top posts to be elected without a contest, Dr Masing said he would like party members to stay united with or without a contest.
He said politics had changed, and unlike in the 1970s when the losers in party elections would lari (leave the party).
Dr Masing said he and his supporters accepted the 2000 defeat, and remained to serve the party.
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