KUCHING: There was a dramatic turn in the leadership fight for control of the Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) when president Datuk Daniel Tajem and all his men were elected unopposed.
Tajem's camp shut out the rival faction, led by state Social Development and Ubranisation Minister Datuk Dr James Masing, a day before nomination closed for the triennial delegates conference (TDC) on July 26 and 27.
In an immediate reaction to the outcome of the nominations, Dr Masing said he was sad and embarrassed by the pre-announcement that Tajem and his group had won the elections.
“To me, the result is a shame. It is hard for me to imagine that this party that we have built up in the past 20 years could have ended up in this manner.
“It is difficult for me to accept that the nine YBs with me did not receive a single nomination from any branch,” added Dr Masing, who earlier in the day announced that his group had sought the intervention of the Home Ministry to take “appropriate action” to help resolve the party crisis.
Tajem’s running mate, Joseph Salang Gandum, the MP for Julau, was also named unopposed deputy president.
Dr Masing’s running mate Datuk Sng Chee Hua, a party vice-president, was supposed to contest against Salang.
The Tajem side also took full control of the Youth and Wanita wings, according to the party’s Credentials Committee chairman Dr Jawie Masing, who made the announcement at 2.45pm at the party headquarters.
The announcement came about five hours after Dr James Masing claimed at a press conference at his group’s operations room that Tajem’s faction was secretly concluding nominations without their knowledge and not adhering to the party constitution.
Dr James Masing and his group with nine MPs and assemblymen had claimed that they had the support of 177 branches.
PBDS plunged into deep crisis when Energy, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Amar Leo Moggie suddenly resigned as president two weeks ago after leading the party for 20 years.
He stepped down barely a month ahead of his scheduled retirement at the party’s TDC, and Tajem, by virtue of being his deputy, took over the helm of the Dayak-based PBDS, a component of the Barisan Nasional.
Moggie had dropped Dr James Masing as information chief and terminated the services of secretary-general Stanley Ajang, treasurer-general Joseph Sallang and seven appointed supreme council members.
However, Tajem reappointed Ajang and Salang, and later filled the other eight vacant posts in the supreme council, leaving out all of Dr James Masing’s men.
Dr James Masing and his group refused to recognise their removal and the new appointments to the supreme council.
Releasing the outcome of the nominations, Dr Jawie Masing said nomination papers were sent out five days ago by the Credentials Committee to the accredited 153 of the 259 branches based on the Registrar of Societies' (ROS) list.
He said of the 147 nomination papers returned, 145 had nominated Tajem, also a former Deputy Chief Minister and Malaysian High Commissioner to New Zealand, as the candidate for the president’s post.
“Two other nomination papers were rejected because they were wrongly filled,” said Dr Jawie Masing.
He said Salang was returned unopposed as the new deputy president with 146 nominations.
Also winning unopposed with 146 nominations were three vice-presidents Mej (R) Peter Runin, Gabriel Adit (Ngemah assemblyman) and Jawah Gerang (Lubok Antu MP) as well as 15 supreme council members.
“Although the nominations only close tomorrow (today), there is no point in waiting for the remaining six more nomination papers as they are immaterial,” added Dr Jawie Masing.
Asked why the Credentials Committee had not verified the annual returns of 177 branches sent to the party headquarters by Dr James Masing’s group, he replied: “I can’t answer you. I only looked at those branches accredited by the secretary-general.”
Dr Jawie Masing said the new Youth leader is Christoper Gira, who succeeds Joseph Entulu, state Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office. Gira’s deputy is Anthony Nais.
Wanita chief Agnes Lia was re-elected. Her deputy is Catherine Tamoh.