KUCHING: Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) is leaving it to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to decide on its representation in the Sarawak cabinet, local councils and grassroots leadership.
“We have pledged our loyalty and support to the Chief Minister and we leave it to the wisdom of the CM to decide on our representation in the Cabinet, the local Councils and community leaders,” said PSB is press statement issued by its secretariat today.
“The decision is his (Chief Minister’s) absolute prerogative and not those of other political parties,” PSB said.
The party – formerly called United People’s Party (UPP) prior to its rebranding – was responding to Assistant Minister of Local Government and Housing Datu Dr Penguang Manggil’s comment on the appointment of councillors yesterday.
Penguang had told The Borneo Post that the term of the current batch of more than 700 councillors in all 24 local councils, which is due to end on June 30, will not be extended and that a new batch of councillors, including the posts of chairman and deputy chairman for these local councils, along with those to be reappointed, will be finalised during a Cabinet meeting on July 11.
He then went on to hint there would not be any councillors appointed from PSB when he said: “I don’t want to pre-empt anything. Just suffice to say that it (councillor appointments) will be allocated among the four (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) components.”
To this, PSB also said: “It is a fact that, even though PSB (formerly UPP) was not in Barisan Nasional and later GSP, PSB has always been represented in the State Cabinet, the local councils and community leaders under the leadership of Tun Pehin Sri Taib Mahmud, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem and the current Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari.”
PSB pointed out that its assemblymen were elected in 2016 as part of the ‘Tok Nan Team’ (Adenan’s administration) which Abang Johari inherited when he took over after the tragic untimely demise of Adenan.
PSB said the party remained part of Abang Johari’s administration. PSB president Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh and his deputy Datuk Dr Jerip Susil are in the State Cabinet holding the portfolios of Second Finance Minister and Assistant Transportation Minister, respectively.
“On our part, we believe our role strengthened and continues to strengthen the State Government. Those who attack PSB only have their personal political interests at heart and not the best interests of the State of Sarawak. They wish to drive PSB to become an opposition party so that they can take over the Councillors, Ketua Masyarakat and Cabinet positions currently held by PSB,” PSB said.
“They do not care about how this would affect the strength and stability of the State Government because they are now maneuvering themselves to claim the positions that they believe will be vacated by PSB representatives.”
PSB currently has its vice president Datuk Tiong Thai King holding the post of Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) chairman, while several party members are councillors.
There have been reports and talks of parties lobbying for the chairman’s post of local councils and this include the five SUPP Sibu branches who are adamant that the person picked to head SMC for the new term must be someone recommended by the party.
Penguang yesterday also said the Mayor’s position for Kuching South City Council (MBKS) and Datuk Bandar for Kuching North City Commission (DBKU), whose terms are to expire in August, are not affected.
According to him, the Cabinet had decided to extend their terms until August to coincide with the end of the Asia Pacific Orchid Conference (APOC13). APOC13 is being held from July 24 to 28, with Kuching given the honour to be the first city in Malaysia to organise the conference.
“The present batch of councillors will not have their term extended. Of course, some of them will be renewed depending on their respective parties. The state Cabinet will meet on July 11 to decide and approve the list for the new batch of councillors,” he said then.
Penguang said finalising the new batch of councillors on July 11 is not an issue, even though it will be 11 days past the term of the current batch because the next batch can start July 11 or to backdate them (date of commencement) to July 1.
It was previously reported that Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah is heading the Cabinet committee to finalise the new list of councillors. Each local authority in Sarawak has a maximum of 32 councillors.