KUCHING: Speculations are rife that Bengoh assemblyman Dr Jerip Susil might be a member of the State Cabinet soon.
Hours after Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud hinted at a function in Kota Samarahan on Saturday that Dr Jerip could expect some good news soon as a reward for his loyalty
to BN, the good doctor represented an assistant minister to officiate at an event.
This is considered ‘unusual’ because the function, which was held at a hotel in Kuching, is outside his constituency of Bengoh.
Dr Jerip was tasked to represent Assistant Minister of Water Supply Sylvester Entrie Muran at the ‘DUN Muara Tuang-level Ngiling Tikai dinner (closing of Gawai)’.
Among those present were Muara Tuang assemblyman Dato Sri Mohd Ali Mahmud, former Nangka assemblyman Datuk Awang Bemee Awang Ali Basah, political secretary to the Chief Minister Awangku Jamudin Pengiran Kon and Samarahan Resident Rodziah Morsidi.
Dr Jerip did not reveal anything about the possibility of becoming a minister or assistant minister in his speech.
He merely talked about the dangers of street politics which could bring chaos to the state. Dr Jerip continued to remain coy yesterday. Attempts to get his comments on Taib’s statement were futile.
He had, in past interviews, said he would leave this matter to the chief minister because he (Taib) had the prerogative to make such a decision. But Bidayuh community leaders have been voicing their support for Dr Jerip’s inclusion in the State Cabinet following his victory in the April 16 state election.
Taib, when officiating at the ‘Samarahan Division’s 25th anniversary’, had sung praises of Dr Jerip in his speech.
Among others, he said Dr Jerip, who once fought the BN government, was now a ‘champion of the BN coalition’ and a promoter of his politics of development.
“He has realised that it is better to serve the people with deeds than by words only. And that’s the difference in Dr Jerip of yesterday and Dr Jerip of today. Bigger things will come to him because of his conviction.”
Taib, however, has been tight-lipped on when he would announce a Cabinet reshuffle or who would make it into the new lineup.
Dr Jerip, a former State Reform Party (STAR) member, had once contested as an independent in Bengoh.
But in the 2001 state election, he joined SUPP and won Bengoh for the BN. He successfully defended the seat in 2006.
In the April 16 polls, he won again for the third time with a 3,646-vote majority in a four-cornered fight.
But the recently-concluded 10th state election is special in a way because Dr Jerip is only one of six SUPP assemblymen who had won following a humiliating performance by the party which saw it losing 13 of the 19 seats it contested in.
Among those defeated was party president Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan. There are only four Bumiputera assemblymen in SUPP.
Many political observers have opined that the time has come for Dr Jerip to be made a minister or at least an assistant minister.
Dr Chan had said before that he had made strong recommendations to Taib to have SUPP’s Bumiputera elected representatives to be appointed to the State Cabinet. But Dr Chan did not disclose the names of those he had recommended.