KUCHING: Datuk Daniel Tajem is making a political comeback. The pioneer Iban political leader is going to stand in his former Bukit Begunan seat which he gave up 10 years ago.
“Win or lose, I will stand. My fight cannot end with the death of PBDS (Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak),” the 70-year-old former PBDS president said.
Confirming his decision to The Star, Tajem who gave up the seat in 1996, said he wants to fight for the economic and land rights of the Dayak people.
“I never wanted to give up the assembly seat. I was not allowed to defend my seat,” he added.
Tajem said the then PBDS president Tan Sri Leo Moggie and present Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Datuk Seri Dr James Jemut Masing had persuaded him not to contest.
He added that he reluctantly complied and remained the deputy president until PBDS broke up and was subsequently deregistered in October 2004, a year after he took over the helm from Moggie.
When Tajem and his group of two assemblymen and three MPs failed to revive PBDS, he became 'partyless'.
Masing’s PRS was registered and accepted into Barisan Nasional.
Early last year, Tajem and his supporters formed the Malaysian Dayak Congress but it is unlikely to get registered in time for the state elections.
Tajem, the first Dayak lawyer, (he graduated from Victoria’s University in Wellington, New Zealand, in the early 1960s) entered the political arena in 1974 when he became Lingga assemblyman under the Sarawak National Party (SNAP).
The seat was later redelineated as the Bukit Begunan constituency.
Tajem said he and his group would contest 17 of the 29 Dayak seats from a total of 71 even if the MDC was not registered in time.
“We will contest under an appropriate banner,” said Tajem, the advisor to the MDC, which has formed a loose opposition coalition with SNAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat, calling themselves Barisan Bersatu Sarawak.
On Dr Masing’s statement to The Star that MDC should not be registered because they were too many suitors for the Dayaks, Tajem said: “The Dayaks can have many suitors but only one husband.”