KUCHING: A former government administrator, Edwin Dundang Bugak, has been unanimously elected the new president of the Sarawak National Party (SNAP).
The 63-year-old Dundang is the son of a former party founder, the late Bugak Duat.
He succeeded Datuk Amar James Wong Kim Min, who has called it a day after serving the party for 40 years, including 22 years as its president.
Wong has been made the party's patron and life president to play the traditional fatherly role.
Former secretary-general Datuk Justine Jinggut has been promoted to deputy president while former Senator Datuk Michael Bong Thian Joon was elected the senior vice-president in a pre-arranged line-up during the election at the party's triennial general assembly at Santubong Resort near here yesterday.
Dundang later announced the appointment of Edmund Stanley Jugol, a former political secretary to the Chief Minister, as the new secretary-general.
Businessman Denis Chang Foh Onn is the new treasurer-general.
This changing-of-the-guard is historic in SNAP as Wong has kept his word and graciously stepped down,'' Dundang said after chairing the first national council meeting.
He said his immediate goals were to re-activate all party branches, prepare the party for the coming parliamentary election and use the legal process to pursue the party's fight against the Registrar of Societies' (ROS) decision to revoke SNAP registration.
(The Court of Appeal has recently allowed SNAP to apply for an order to quash the ROS' de-registration decision. No date has been set for the hearing of the application.)
Dundang said the party would seek a meeting with the state and national Barisan Nasional leadership to re-affirm its position in the coalition.
As far as we are concerned, SNAP has never left or being kicked out of the Barisan Nasional.
Legally, in spirit and soul, we are still in the Barisan.''
He said SNAP would defend its four parliamentary seats and seven state seats in the next general election.
The 42-year-old rural-based multiracial party, which produced Sarawak's first Chief Minister in Stephen Kalong Ningang in 1965, is now left without any elected representative after its 10 MPs and assemblymen joined the newly-formed Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) several months ago.
The SPDP is an offshoot of an internal power struggle that led to SNAP's de-registration last November.
Wong said the new party leaders had a difficult task ahead to bring the party back to its glory days.