Cutting the nose to spite the face

It’s interesting that a former Sarawak assemblyman who has jumped ship, is now trying to find fault with his countrymen and political fraternity.

Not too long ago Larry Sng was an aspiring young man whose utterance was fair but since jumping ship and becoming a Member of Parliament for Julau, he is singing a different tune.

Larry Sng who was born in the Iban heartland of central Sarawak, joined PBDS in 2001 when he was 22, before leaving for PRS in 2004.

I knew Larry’s father Datuk Sng Chee Hua and had even interviewed his grandfather Kapitan China Sng Joo in Kapit in the mid-80s when the young Julau MP was still a toddler.

When Larry joined PBDS he had expected one of his father’s former colleagues Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing to help pave the way for him to enter politics.

After all Masing – one of Sarawak’s first Iban PhD holders – was a close friend of his father who was one of the pioneers of PBDS and also a former MP for Julau.

However, the Sng-Masing connection fell through when PBDS refused to allow Larry to contest under their banner even though the London School of Economics graduate had the credentials.

But like his father, Larry was not going to take “no” for an answer coming from the Sng political dynasty – the scion of rural politics in Sarawak.

In May 2018 when he failed to be selected as a candidate in the May 2018 parliamentary election, Larry stood as an Independent candidate and won.

 

He secured 10,105 of the 18,279 votes cast to defeat the four-term incumbent Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum, PRS deputy president.

Larry subsequently joined the PKR shortly after the election.

During his debate speech in Parliament recently he suggested that the economy of his homeland Sarawak was so bad that people were leaving the country in droves.

“Could it be due to the absence of quality jobs in Sarawak that the number of Sarawakians looking for sustenance abroad reaches up to thousands of people?

“I am raising this issue as a statement of my concern about the poverty of the people in Sarawak,” he stressed.

Larry was referring to the detention of 40 Sarawakians out of 47 Malaysians in Cambodia on Dec 16 last year and another case of eight Sarawakians who were stranded in Liberia because they left the country to seek greener pastures.

Larry whose intervention helped “save” the Sarawak detainees, added: “I ask for the detention of 47 Malaysians not be politicised because it has been well-resolved with the Cambodian government.”

However, Sng has in fact politicised the incident. If not why did he also ask the Rural and Regional Development Minister to confirm a report that Pakan in Sarawak was the poorest district in Malaysia in the same breath when he brought up the Cambodian issue?

He must have been speaking tongue-in-cheek when he said: “I also welcome the minister’s announcement that the 28 poorest districts (out of which Pakan is one) will be given special focus by the federal government for the implementation of socioeconomic development programmes.”

“I ask the minister to state the projects and the amount of allocations from the federal government. I also urge the federal government to closely monitor the implementation of socioeconomic development projects in order to avoid misappropriation and leakage,” he said, suggesting elements of corruption.

Pakan was the stronghold of BN coalition president of Sarawak People’s Democratic Party (SPDP) Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom, who was the assemblyman for seven terms.

 

Surely Mawan, the BN or even the opposition would have addressed the so-called poverty issue three decades ago.

Larry’s story which also made its way to Facebook also had people agreeing to his statement; one respondent said that Sarawak was poor because the government was too focused on its oil and gas demands from the federal government, that it had neglected the welfare of its people.

But to be fair to the new GPS government, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg inherited the same government of the iconic Tan Sri Adenan Satem barely two years ago when the latter died in 2017.

Surely, the Sarawak economy, which was apparently booming during Tok Nan’s tenure, could not have deteriorated so fast in so short a time?

The problem is that the politicians of today have run out of ideas and ways and means on how to address social problems and simple bread-and-butter issues.

Many, bankrupt of ideas, turn to political rhetoric to make themselves relevant.

Unfortunately, negativity continues to be the order of the day – in parliament as in the state assembly – as sometimes witch-hunting and finger-pointing seem to be the order of the day during any heated debate.

And the politicians who know how to play the game live up to the media hype – common sense and reason are put on the backburner as the budding YBs fight it out.

It is sad that even my dear church-elder friend Baru Bian, now promoted to federal minister, has been coerced into passing judgement on his colleagues in the political arena.

Surely, Baru a former PBDS man with 30 years of experience and a friend of Masing, must have known about the “sick” projects such as the proposed Sri Aman hospital, proposed access road to the Baleh Dam and quarters for the immigration post in Ba’Kelalan, which is the home of his community, the Lun Bawang.

Why bring it up now?

Strange, but Baru did not mention the need to upgrade the 170km-or-so timber road from Lawas to Ba’Kelalan or even mention why the long-awaited stretch between Bario and Ba’Kelalan has been “stalled” for at least two years!

It’s depressing to note that the Christian-belt comprising Lun Bawang and Kelabit in the northeastern mountains of Sarawak, have to suffer because of the petty quarrels between cousins.

Again, the contractors have been blamed for Sarawak’s woes and predicament in suggesting that they are either inefficient or downright corrupt.

And if they are, then Sarawak will go down in history as the poorest in the whole country.

As the Malay saying goes, our politicians are bagai meludah ke langit – in other words a person who spits in the air to express his disgust, only to be showered with his own saliva.

This is similar to the expression of “cutting off your nose to spite your face” – a needless self-destructive overreaction to a problem.

At the end of the day all parties reacting unhappily to issues would result in damaging their own self-esteem.

It’s time for our politicians to grow up. If that is the kind of mentality that we are going to adopt, then don’t expect too much from our honourable politicians in the upcoming state election, which is 24 months away.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.