KUCHING: Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak’s (PBDS) information chief Datuk Dr James Masing, backed by eight of the party’s 14 elected representatives, has announced he will run for the president’s post in the coming party election.
The state Social Development and Urbanisation Minister yesterday said he received support from 117 of the 206 branches to go for the top post although he needed only 62 nominations to be eligible to contest.
Another 40 branches in the Kapit, Bintulu, Miri and Limbang divisions have yet to hold their annual general meetings (AGMs) and to indicate whom they will endorse in the contest for the posts of president and deputy president.
Dr Masing, 54, has picked vice-president Datuk S’ng Chee Hua, 60, as his running mate.
They are likely to face deputy president Datuk Daniel Tajem and treasurer-general Joseph Sallang, who have received support from several branches to vie for the president’s and deputy president’s posts respectively.
Tajem, a former Deputy Chief Minister and High Commissioner to New Zealand, said earlier that he would contest the top post if Datuk Amar Leo Moggie retires as party president.
Sallang, also Julau MP, is a close aide to Moggie, who is Energy, Communications and Multimedia Minister.
Moggie has led the party since its formation in 1983 by a breakaway group from the recently deregistered Sarawak National Party (SNAP).
The PBDS’s top post was never contested.
Dr Masing’s surprise announcement yesterday came amidst more calls from branches urging Moggie to reverse his decision not to seek another term in the coming polls, the date of which has not been fixed yet.
“Based on the number of nominations l have received and my assessment after visiting the party’s grassroots statewide, I have quite a good chance of winning the president’s post,” he told a press conference at Kuching Hilton.
He said his track record in the state government would be another plus factor.
On why he was announcing his candidacy before all the branches had held their AGMs by the end of this month, Dr Masing replied: “If l hold on, branches which support me will get fed up.”
Asked if he would still contest the post should Moggie decide to seek re-election, Dr Masing said his decision was not made lightly.
He added: “I have known Moggie to be a man who keeps his word and he has been quite insistent about stepping down.”
Dr Masing also noted that Moggie had said “many times in many places” that he wanted to retire and his decision should therefore be respected.
“So, it is our responsibility to decide who should take over from him.”
On concerns raised about money politics in the run-up to the party polls, he said his team would not condone using money to buy members' support.
Dr Masing said if elected, he would work closely with Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and other Barisan Nasional leaders.
“I will articulate the interests of the Dayaks in the framework of our multi-racial society,” he added.
The elected representatives seated together with Dr Masing and S’ng (also a former MP and assemblyman) yesterday were MPs Jimmy Donald (Sri Aman), Billy Abit Joo (Ulu Rejang) and Joseph Mauh (Selanggau), and assemblymen Dublin Unting (Batang Ai), Joseph Entulu (Tamin), both also state assistant ministers, Larry S’ng (Pelagus), John Sikie (Kakus) and Mong Dagang (Bukit Begunan).
Other key party leaders in the team are Wilfred Nissom, political secretary to the Chief Minister, Wanita chief Agnes Lia and her deputy Doris Brodie.
The party’s five other elected representatives not present yesterday were Moggie, Sallang, MP Jawah Gerang (Lubok Antu), and assemblymen Stanley Ajang (Belaga), also the party’s secretary-general, and Gabriel Adit (Ngemah).