KUCHING: Will the now-partyless Datuk Dr Jerip Susil be joining a component party of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), or will he choose to remain a GPS-friendly independent elected representative until the next state election in 2021?
Dr Jerip sent shockwaves in the local political arena following his abrupt resignation as deputy president of Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) yesterday.
Though PSB is not a component party of GPS, the Mambong assemblyman is a member of the state administration as Assistant Minister of Transportation.
While the press release in which he announced his decision to desert PSB was released yesterday through a WhatsApp media group, Dr Jerip himself was incommunicado throughout yesterday up until press time.
His press release announced he was leaving PSB with immediate effect, and that he had come to this decision after ‘consulting the people and supporters’ in his constituency.
He also mentioned he had confidence in GPS to bring development to rural constituencies like Mambong, and that the people in his constituency will benefit a great deal through the GPS government’s Rural Transformation Programme (RTP).
Dr Jerip also stressed that he made the decision for ‘the good of Bidayuh unity’, adding he would be able to contribute towards ‘solidifying and consolidating Bidayuh unity’ within the Sarawak government.
GPS component parties comprise Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).
PBB currently has 46 assemblypersons including six direct candidates who won in the last state election in 2016. PRS has 11, SUPP seven and PDP three.
Speculations have been rife that Dr Jerip could be joining PBB, since Mambong constituency neighbours the Tarat and Serembu state seats which are held by PBB.
All three seats are also under Puncak Borneo parliamentary constituency, which is allocated to PBB but currently held by Willie Mongin of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).
It remains to be seen if he will rejoin SUPP, the party he represented when he first became an assemblyman, or join PRS which currently has no Bidayuh elected representatives.
PDP vice president Dato Henry Harry Jinep, meanwhile, said yesterday the party is opening its doors to Dr Jerip and would ‘welcome him with open arms’ should he decide to join them.
Several leaders of PBB, however, have opted to remain silent over this latest political development, preferring instead to wait until Dr Jerip has decided on his next move.
Dr Jerip, a medical doctor by profession, entered politics under the banner of State Reform Party Sarawak (STAR), where he was secretary-general, and contested in the 1996 state election and 1999 general election. He lost in both elections.
In 2001, he joined SUPP and won the Bengoh seat (now known as Mambong) which he defended in 2006 and again in 2011.
Even as he joined United People’s Party (UPP) in 2014, he was directed to resign from the party to contest as a Barisan Nasional-direct candidate in the 2016 state election, and rejoined not long after securing victory.
UPP was rebranded as PSB earlier this year.