By Joseph Tawie

A joint Dayak representation in the BN will ensure a Dayak deputy chief minister, a post eyed by Masing.

Dr. James Masing

KUCHING: The merger between Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) parties – Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) – looks set to take shape in a move which could give the joint entity a deputy chief minister’s slot.

“We are serious about it. Once the election dust has settled, the PRS merger committee will be reactivated so that talks between PRS and SPDP can proceed,” PRS president James Masing said.

He was commenting on a news report quoting him as saying that the merger plan of the two parties has to be implemented if the two Dayak-dominant parties want a bigger representation in the state cabinet, including getting the post of deputy chief minister (DCM).

The two parties when merged would have 14 Dayak elected representatives, making the new entity the second biggest party after Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) which has 35 seats.

The merger talks began six years ago upon the suggestion of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud following the deregistration of Sarawak National Party (SNAP) and Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) after the leadership crises.

SPDP and PRS are breakaway parties from the deregistration of SNAP and PBDS on Nov 5, 2002 and on Oct 21, 2004 respectively.

However, SNAP’s registration was restored by the Court of Appeal last year.

After being accused of having a hand in the deregistration of SNAP and PBDS, Taib wanted to be seen as trying to unite the Dayaks under the PRS-SPDP entity.

But the merger plan met a number of obstacles previously before taking a fresh step now.

Contacted by FMT, Masing said: “Whatever obstacles we have we need to negotiate and discuss them.

“We need to be a political realist at some point of time. The political landscape can change. We need to change to remain relevant,” he said.

The merger plan becomes vital now following the dismal performance of another Sarawak party, Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), in the state polls.

The Chinese-based SUPP won only six out of 19 seats it contested, with losses including in Piasau where SUPP president and DCM Dr George Chan was defeated by a DAP greenhorn.

SUPP’s heavy defeat left a vacant DCM position which is now being eyed by the Dayak-based parties.

SNAP invited as well

Masing also called on SNAP to join the merger talks or return to the Barisan Nasional (BN) fold.

Dayak-based SNAP was another party which performed poorly in the state polls, losing in all 26 constituencies it contested.

Yesterday, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang also mooted the idea of a merger between his party and SNAP so that they can jointly embrace the support of the Iban-Dayak community in Sarawak to get rid of BN.

DAP performed very well in the state polls by winning 12 out of the 15 urban and Chinese-majority seats it contested.

Meanwhile, SPDP president William Mawan Ikom could not be reached for comment.

However, he had reportedly said “if that is what Masing has said, I will say the same thing”.

SPDP deputy secretary-general Paul Igai said that any merger would be between parties and not elected representatives.

He said any decision would have to be taken back to the members.

Several members of the Dayak community have expressed the hope that the two parties would seriously consider the merger.

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