A tactical decision to accept Willie

Never accept the role of a Gladiator if you do not have the spirit of a Warrior.

A. K. Hasan, author

It was not unexpected. Somehow we saw it coming. Many thought the decision by Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) to accept Puncak Borneo MP Datuk Willie Mongin as an ordinary member was the right thing to do – for political stability.

In my column on June 26 under the heading ‘Let’s welcome Willie and Jugah’, I explained that for political stability and for the sake of bringing development to Puncak Borneo and improving the lot of the people there, the GPS coalition will accept Willie – despite insisting after its convincing state election last December that there is “no room for political frogs”.

In politics there are no permanent friends or enemies. PBB’s decision is seen as a tactical move to win back the Puncak Borneo constituency which it lost in 2018 for fielding, as some analysts said, the wrong candidate.

Party president Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said Willie was admitted into the party without any commitment. Meaning, he’s just an ordinary member. For now I guess; we won’t have to wait for long to know whether the party will field him as a candidate as the 15th general election (GE15) is “expected to be over by November” this year as predicted by political scientists.

The Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities – and a former PKR member who claimed he was “merely parked in Bersatu” all this while – has managed to pre-empt the anti-party hopping law which has yet to go through the Senate and be given the King’s assent.

PBB has a tough decision to make on the Puncak Borneo candidacy. Willie’s popularity has to be taken into account as he won the constituency by a comfortable majority in GE14.

He garnered 18,865 votes to win by a 4,005-vote majority, defeating Jeannoth Sinel of BN who received 14,860 votes, and STAR’s Buln Ribos who managed only 795 votes, losing his deposit.

Willie’s entry into PBB as an ordinary member may not evoke as much negative reaction as the decision to field him in the coming polls.

While there are some who are against his acceptance, there are many others who say taking him as an ordinary member without any commitment is okay.

But fielding him as candidate in GE15 is another matter altogether, they say. This is where the coalition leaders have to tread carefully. Not all in Puncak Borneo may support him. Remember, there might be a lot of voters who might not support his party-hopping tendency.

Anyway, Willie on his part, in the event he’s not fielded, should help any candidate chosen by GPS to win the seat. If he skips this election voluntarily, that would be magnanimous on his part. He’s still young and has many years of political life left in him. He can be a candidate next time.

I am sure PBB leaders and ordinary members will support him as a candidate in the future. For now, he just has to work his way up.

Meanwhile, let us take a look at some of the reactions and comments which I have compiled and edited for clarity from social media platforms regarding Willie’s entry into PBB. Since I did not get permission to publish them I will list them as anonymous. Hope our leaders will take these views constructively.

“The issue of YB Puncak Borneo still needs to be discussed. Nevertheless, he has been accepted by the leadership, so let’s accept it. The rest is up to the people.

I’m accepting the premier’s announcement … he is conveying the supreme council’s decision. He must have thought about it carefully … decision could be based on SB’s report too.  

Willie is a frog alright. Anywhere, he went through the procedures before being accepted by the coalition – just like Tan Sri William Mawan, Datuk Dr Jerip Susil, Datuk Rosey Yunus, and Paulus Palu Gumban before him. They are all birds of the same feather. Tak apa, so long as they serve the people okay lah.

Who can forget the day when Willie slammed GPS kau kau in Parliament on 14th Oct 2019 when debating on the 2020 Budget. Maybe he can be excused because he was a PKR man. Now he is a turncoat and since he says he supports PBB struggles we just have to accept him. But I will never agree if the leadership decides to field him as a candidate in the coming election.

Since the PBB supreme council has unanimously accepted him unconditionally, we have no choice but to welcome him as a member.  The rest we wait and see who the candidate  for Puncak Borneo will be.

Willie may have the voters’ support in Puncak Borneo. But there are also some who are not happy with him because he defeated our PBB candidate in 2018. Never mind, we are one people who will always forgive and forget – not forgetting that we forget easily.

Puncak Borneo voters voted for the party (PKR) not for Willie Mongin, so will his entry into PBB ensure the seat will go to GPS in GE15? I don’t think so! Since he lompat to Bersatu the people are disappointed. Now he has hopped to PBB. Let’s wait and see in the coming polls if we had made the right decision to accept him.

It’s a matter of principle. A frog may come in different colours and sizes but it is still a frog. We were adamant about not taking in party-hoppers, and we were pushing for the anti-party hopping bill all this while. So what happened now? Why accept Willie? Where is our principle?

What are the people going to think of us now? We say one thing and do another. We are very disappointed. Hopefully, our leaders don’t rub salt to the wound by fielding him in the 15th general election. God have mercy if it happens …

Hey, what’s the issue? He is a deputy federal minister and he is a plus for PBB! Just accepting him as a member without condition is okay. Whether he will be a candidate come GE15 is yet to be seen. Even if he is fielded, so what? If he wins, good, but if he loses, just accept it as the voters’ verdict. But he will win, I am sure of that.

In politics there is no permanent enemy or friend. Even Anwar Ibrahim and DAP can hug and kiss each other for the sake of Pakatan Harapan’s stability. At one time PAS and DAP were sleeping together too, though they eventually divorced. Kalwat in politics is okay, for political stability.

It’s okay. PBB did the right thing to accept Willie. Living him in political wilderness will not be good for political stability in Sarawak. We must win as many seats as possible after we did badly in the last PRU, winning only 19 seats. This time if GPS comes up with a good strategy, we might take 28 seats if not 31. Yes, we did right by accepting Willie.

A frog is a frog, never mind. In politics there is no such thing as being too strict or being rigid. A political enemy yesterday is a friend today. That is politics. It is true PBB wants the seat back into its fold. With or without Willie, PBB would certainly contest. Willie’s presence and being an MP is a small part of the equation. It’s best that PBB do the right things and go into the battle with half the battle won. That is political strategy. PBB has its own stance and strategy and is a party with high integrity. I can only say Willie’s entry into PBB is to make amends for the failure to defend the seat in 2018, won by the opposition because of the wrong choice of candidate fielded by PBB. Cheers!

PBB beat the anti-party hopping law. It supported the bill and before it can become law, it took Willie in. Well, let the voters decide if the party did the right thing.

Our party president made the right choice to accept Willie with the blessing of the supreme council, of course. This is to stop the intense politicking at the grassroots level. Anyway, in politics, nothing is permanent.

Nothing new. Somehow, we might also do a “froggie” after PRU15 to support whoever wins in Malaya, either BN or PN or even PH. This is political reality.

Let it be. Eventually, I believe grassroots supporters and members will have a say in choosing their wakil rakyat. After all votes come from them.

I don’t think PBB received or intended to receive anything from Willie. Willie has been lobbying to join PBB for some time. I don’t think PBB also promised him anything. All PBB wants is for him to adopt our culture, abide by our rules and be loyal to everything PBB struggles and stands for.

Earlier, we were adamant about not accepting katak into our beloved party to maintain our integrity. By accepting katak, it means that we went back on our principles and will be seen by generations to come as being fickle minded.

Why is the party being easily swayed by this turncoat? Have we forgotten he tarnished GPS and the state leaders in Parliament during the 2020 Budget session?

We just don’t know what to say. But in a nutshell, Willie successfully taichied (manoeuvred) his way into PBB in spite of the anti-hopping bill recently passed in Parliament.”

I end with a quote from American academic, Michael Porter: “Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.”

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