Tuesday, October 15

We’re not interested in positions — Masing

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PRS to forgo ministerial appointments which are irrelevant to the rural people of Sarawak

KUCHING: Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) decided yesterday not to accept any ministerial appointments that are deemed irrelevant to the rural people of Sarawak, and its Supreme Council has instructed party president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing to talk to the prime minister on this issue.

Speaking to reporters after chairing the party’s Supreme Council meeting here, Masing said he would seek a meeting with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to see whether its deputy president Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun could be given a more appropriate portfolio so that he could assist the rural populace.

Entulu was recently appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

“He (Entulu) is not interested in just being a full minister. Full minister for what … that is not what he is interested in but we told him to be patient because I will talk to PM first and see where he can put Entulu,” said Masing, who is also Land Development Minister.

“I want to make it very clear here that we are not interested in positions. We are only interested in positions that will be of assistance to the people that we represent. That is important. It must be appropriate portfolios, not just anything.”

In the case of the appointment of its vice president Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum as Deputy Tourism Minister, which he declined, Masing said he had tried to persuade Salang to reconsider his decision, but he (Salang) stood his ground.

‘Salang more interested in assist people more than the position’

“That stand which Salang made reflected the new group of Dayaks who feel that if things are not done properly they will make a stand, and this is the first stand we have made,” said Masing, adding that those in authority must look at it very seriously.

“It is not easy to make such a stand because the offer is there and the perks and the privileges are all there, but yet he (Salang) was not interested in it. What he is interested in is whether he can be of assistance to the people in the rural areas.”

Unhappiness also prevailed in the meeting about state BN component party SPDP, a rural-base party like PRS, being overlooked in terms of ministerial appointments.

No MPs from SPDP, which won all four seats it contested in the May 5 general election, were given any position in the federal cabinet which was unveiled on Wednesday.

“It is the rural areas, especially in Sarawak, which is the fixed deposit of Barisan Nasional (BN), but if you don’t take care of your fixed deposit somebody will withdraw them later. That is why we are worried,” cautioned Masing.

However, Masing conceded that the party understood and appreciated the fact that Najib has the final say on things.

“That we understand, but we just ask for his (Najib) kind consideration to look at us again because we contribute quite substantially to the victory of BN (in the recent polls).

“This is because when we look at the appointments we don’t just look at what are given to us but we also look at what are given to others who performed less than us, and because of that we are not very happy.”

In any case, Masing stressed that despite their disappointment over the ministerial appointments the party would never leave the BN.

“That (pulling out from BN) is not on our mind. We are true blue BN. We are just not very happy with the appointment. It does not mean when the boat is a bit leaking we don’t say we are going to rock the boat.”