If there is anyone who is willing to sacrifice anything for his family, it’s president of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) Baru, Bobby William.
Formed in 1983, the Dayak-based party had provided the community with the opportunity to become leaders in a country of their birth.
It was no fault of theirs that the White Rajahs harnessed their brave “Sea Dayak” (Iban) ancestors to become defenders of their homeland after he subjugated the sea-faring warriors from Saribas in the mid-1800s.
But over time, Christianity and education opened up the minds of the Dayaks to believe in themselves as “leaders” and not just foot soldiers.
Born in Simanggang in 1967, Bobby was sent to a Chinese-medium school as a youngster before studying at SMK Simanggang for an English education.
After his Diploma in Public Administration, Bobby decided to further his education and secured a Master’s degree in Business.
Joining the Sarawak civil service, he rose to become a senior officer with the Pepper Marketing Board before resigning to go into business.
Despite his success, Bobby and his Bisaya wife dreamt of having their own children without success.
The opportunity came when Bobby learnt that his pregnant sister wanted him to adopt her third child.
And on that fateful day, he took on one of his greatest responsibilities when the couple adopted Nigel, a Down’s syndrome child.
After 16 years of love and care, Nigel took another step of sacrifice — he decided to enter politics to help his community.
Turning the clock back, Bobby quipped: “When we adopted Nigel, my wife had agreed to provide him with the best and he has grown to be a young and cheerful adult.”
As Bobby prepares to face the powerful GPS coalition in the coming 12th Sarawak state election, he can reflect on PBDS’ glorious past.
The Dayak journey started in 1963 when the founders of Sarawak National Party (SNAP) helmed the Sarawak leadership.
Sarawak’s first chief minister was SNAP’s Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan, an Iban-Chinese from Betong.
But his leadership was short-lived following interference by the political leaders from the federal coalition in Kuala Lumpur.
“Sacked” for standing up to Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, SNAP grew to be the most powerful opposition.
Abdul Rahman had made a gentleman’s agreement that as a multi-racial country, the Dayaks and Malays would share power equally.
In keeping with his promise, a local Malay, Tun Abang Openg, was appointed Sarawak Governor under a Dayak leader.
But further interference led to the removal of Ningkan in 1965.
However, after the demise of Openg in 1969, the equation changed.
In 1970, Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub, a Melanau-Malay, became Sarawak’s third chief minister and a Malay, Tun Tuanku Bujang, became the new Governor.
A political struggle within SNAP led to a group of hardcore Dayaks breaking away to form PBDS.
PBDS’ pinnacle of success was when the party won 15 seats in the 1987 state polls, making them a powerful opposition.
Five years later in the 1991 election, PBDS’ ambitious aim to capture Sarawak was foiled when the BN coalition won by 49 seats to seven.
Most of their candidates lost narrowly, and in-fighting and a power struggle led to its decline and eventual deregistration in 2004.
On Aug 28, 2013, remaining members of PBDS, led by lawyer Luis Jarau, formed PBDS Baru (new PBDS).
Louis’ successor Cobbold John Lusoi held the fort until his demise on March 26, 2018.
Bobby, who took over from Cobbold, will be contesting in Senadin.
The other 10 seats PBDS Baru will be contesting in are: Bukit Begunan (Entusa Imam); Opar (Saini Kakong); Pelagus (Mejar [r] Moses Ripai); Katibas (Pegawai Waran [r] Sai Malaka); Ngemah (Leo Bunsu); Bukit Goram (Robert Saweng); Murum (Kenneth Silek Adan); Gedung (Lingga Atok); Samalaju (Baba Emperan); and Batu Danau (Ignituis Joseph Bunsuan).
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.