Snap now strutting about and talking big

on Mar 19, 2011

After eight years in hibernation battling the deregistration order of the Registrar of Societies (RoS), the Sarawak National Party (Snap) is now acting up and talking big.
It is rather ambitious of the party to aspire to contest more than 40 seats in the coming state election.
And questions are being raised whether Snap has the financial muscle to fight in the polls, let alone field candidates in that many constituencies as it announced.
NONEAll this while, the party has been “neither dead nor alive” from the fallout of the RoS deregistration order on Nov 5, 2002, caused by a leadership tussle between the then president James Wong Kim Min (left) and then deputy president Peter Tinggom Kamarau.
Then, suddenly now, it has become alive.
After the deregistration, Tinggom and other leaders formed the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP), taking over Snap’s position and role in the State Barisan Nasional (BN).
However, Snap won a reprieve when the Court of Appeal allowed a stay of the RoS order. Last year, the same court ruled the RoS order null and void.
Empty shell trying to fill up
During its political hibernation, Snap was reduced to insignificance.
“It had became an empty shell as most of its members left, with only a handful of die-hard members and supporters still hanging around,” said a political analyst.
The party was left almost penniless when Wong, its chief financier, quit in 2003 as president, a post he had held since 1981.
azlanIn the 2004 parliamentary election, the party contested only six seats, and lost all, and in the 2006 state polls, it fielded candidates in 29 constituencies, winning only in one, Engkili.
However, the assemblyperson, Johnical Rayong later defected to the BN.
Most of the 2006 candidates, including Rayong, were sponsored by the Malaysian Dayak Congress (MDC), whose application for registration was rejected by the RoS on grounds of “national security”.
The MDC-sponsored candidates were using Snap just for its symbol. In the 2008 parliamentary polls, Snap went for three seats, again failing to win any.
The party did not take part in the recent Batang Ai state and Sibu parliamentary by-elections.
A simple analysis of the election results show that the party’s influence is on the decline, especially in the rural areas where it was once the dominant political force in the days of Sarawak’s first chief minister, Stephen Kalong Ningkan.
One reason for the downslide is that the party is no longer in the BN.

Coalition’s open secret in maintaining power
The BN is a a life-blood for any party that wants to survive in Malaysia.
The ruling coalition provides government and political jobs for the leaders of the component parties, something that opposition leaders can only dream about.
Their members are also rewarded with positions in local councils as well as in statutory bodies.
When Snap was deregistered, its ministers in the state cabinet formed a separate party so they could remain in the BN, thus retaining their positions.
Many Snap members in local councils and statutory bodies also followed suit.
Snap’s victory in reversing the RoS order last year was a morale booster of sorts. With the period of uncertainty over, the party has plans for its rejuvenation.
NONEDespite the rosy rejuvenation plans announced by one of its leaders, Edwin Dundang (right), the party has attracted only a handful of intellectuals.
Its third political symposium in Kuching early this year, Snap only attracted about 80 people, mostly Dayak politicians from the defunct Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) and Snap itself.
One of the attendees remarked that there was nothing new in what Snap had to offer to draw more political supporters.
Peninsula’s influence in the East
The only consolation for the party is that it has gained sympathy from Parti Kita, led by former Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim, and former PKR vice-president Jeffrey Kitingan’s United Borneo Front.
The civil society group, the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement, is also offering to help Snap in its rejuvenation plans.
There is speculation that the party has been promised financial help from a Peninsular Malaysia tycoon.
Snap leaders, including Dundang, denied receiving any help from any tycoon. In fact, they were surprised when a reporter queried them on the matter.
The tycoon, it is said, used to finance the PKR until recently, when he dropped out of the good books of PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.
Another story making the rounds in Kuching is that a rich BN politician and a timber tycoon are splashing cash on Snap for the coming state election.
Even though not confirmed, this speculation is spreading fast.
“Obviously, someone does not want to see the Pakatan Rakyat (PKR), especially PKR, win a seat in the coming election,” a businessman toldMalaysiakini.
NONEThis person’s intention, it is said, is to split the votes for the Opposition and discredit the PKR leadership, especially Baru Bian, who has taken on the state government over the native customary rights land issue.
Many BN leaders are seething at Baru (left) for throwing a dare at Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud for a public debate on the NCR land issue.
Sarawak-based newspapers have also posed questions on whether Snap was being sponsored to split votes, especially in the rural areas, to ensure the victory of the BN candidates.
Snap leaders could not be reached for comment.

Stephen Tiong



pop up text

Blog Archive

Top Ranking Pro PR

My Blog List