SERIAN: Datuk Richard Riot yesterday denied rumours that he had a falling-out with Dato Sri Michael Manyin.
The two Bidayuh Barisan Nasional leaders made a rare joint appearance at Kampung Paon Gahat yesterday with Riot saying that he had always enjoyed a good working relationship with Manyin.
He said they were seldom seen together not because they had a falling-out but because of their conflicting schedules.
Manyin is the assemblyman for Tebedu, one of the two seats under Serian parliamentary constituency represented by Riot.
“We are seldom seen together not because we are not on the same wavelength. It’s because of our schedules – I am needed here, and he (Manyin) will be needed somewhere else. Today (Feb 27) is an exception and historic indeed because both of us Bidayuh leaders could make it here at Paon Gahat.
“We do not see each other that often, but we always communicate with each other through the telephone and SMS (short messaging system) and we always exchange ideas on how we can develop Serian,” said Riot.
Rumours had it that Manyin, who is vice president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), would not sit with Riot who is assistant secretary general of Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP). Both of them also hail from Kampung Pichin.
This, however, was proven wrong yesterday as both Manyin and Riot were seen talking a lot to each other and also exchanged a few light moments.
The function at Paon Gahat was for the official opening of the village road by Manyin, who is the state’s Infrastructure Development and Communication Minister.
Riot, who is also Deputy Foreign Minister, said the strong and solid BN team in Serian must be maintained and preserved.
He pointed out that even though he saw a few opposition flags on the way to Paon Gahat, this would only make him and the other BN leaders more fired up to defend Serian and the two state seats under it as BN fortresses.
“At first, I did feel a bit disappointed and sad because I did not see BN flags. But we should not let it dampen our spirits.
“Instead, we should be more fired up to maintain this area as a BN stronghold. Richard Riot will not be dispirited, my friends,” he said.
Manyin, in his speech later, also said the BN must remain strong in Serian.
He said the opposition had tried to weaken BN by spreading all sorts of allegations, including one that accused him (Manyin) of stealing land in Serian.
“These people are trying all sort of things to slander me. They say a new road is opened in Serian because Manyin has land there. No such thing, I don’t take people’s land,” he said.
He also called on the Bidayuh community to discard the ‘crab mentality’ in bringing down a successful Bidayuh.
“If we pull each other down, who is going to lift the community? If we have a successful person in our community, we should ‘bigawai’ (call a celebration) for him, not to bring him down,” he said.