Not even occupying mind’s back seat

Politics determine who has the power, not who has the truth.

– Paul Krugman, American economist

Many journalists are endowed with passion for politics, showing in their writings and opinions their inclinations towards certain parties and personalities which are their rights. There’s nothing wrong with that; after all, Malaysia allows for this freedom.

There have been many cases of teachers and educationists, especially school principals and headmasters, who got seriously involved in politics and eventually became election candidates; most of them won.

In Saratok for example, my friend, former MP and deputy minister Jelaing Mersat, is a former school principal and so is former Krian assemblyman and state assistant minister Datuk Peter Nyarok.

Others familiar with me are the likes of former school heads Datuk Gramong Juna (my former teacher), my former colleague Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong (currently full state minister), a poker buddy the late Jimmy Donald who was Sri Aman MP — he was also a former school principal — and many others that include current minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah and Datuk Lihan Jok (former senator and assemblyman).

Lately, many readers of my column, especially those in Krian and Saribas basins, asked me why I never wrote articles on politics. Some even asked whether I am still harbouring active political involvement. The word “still” was used in view of some previous episodes pertaining to yours truly — in Saratok that was.

Some are expecting political insights from me. These are those who know those special rendezvouses between 1976 and 1983.

There might be a few who devise their own theories and analysis regarding my evasion of newspaper political writing and discussion. Like The Beatles’ iconic hit, I just “Let It Be”.

Many can still recall my visits to some 30 longhouses in 1976 (during my USM Penang semester break) accompanying my cousin and then Krian assemblyman Datuk Amar Dunstan Endawie Enchana (1937-2014).

This was for the purpose of explaining to the constituents about Sarawak National Party’s (SNAP) intention to join the national alliance (BN) government. The party, headed by him with 14 seats in the state
legislative assembly, was the Opposition.

After the Krian longhouse visits, Endawie brought me with him and entourage to call on some Dayak prominent figures in Sibu for the same purpose. Our entourage was joined by SNAP secretary-general Datuk Leo Moggie Irok (now Tan Sri Datuk Amar) and some Sibu politicians from other parties such as Temenggong Jonathan Bangau, Joseph Unting (later MP and senator) and others.

Most, if not all, were in favour of SNAP joining the government. Endawie later was made deputy chief minister (1977-79) and subsequently Malaysian High Commissioner to New Zealand. In 1975, when he and Leo visited me in my USM hostel room, he did hint of making me his successor (for Krian seat).

This was reassured during our trips in 1976. When I graduated in March 1979, things, however, had changed but the fire in me was just getting started despite losing contact with Endawie.

For the Dec 1983 state polls, my name was in top five listing for the Krian seat, according to then deputy SNAP president Datuk Edward Jeli. I was principal of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Sedaya in Kanowit but went AWOL (absent without leave) for a week prior to the nomination day.

On nomination day at Saratok, community hall voters got the shock of their lives when I became proposer to an independent candidate, an offence that could lead to dismissal from government service. It was intentional and I was ready for it because a high paying Shell Berhad job in Lutong, Miri was waiting for me.

But there was no job expulsion or the Shell Bhd job. And the same went for my candidacy for subsequent polls because 1983 was a political full stop for me. Now it is not even occupying the back seat of my mind.

Nevertheless, being a registered voter since 1975, I did exercise my voting rights in a number of state and general elections though many of these involved friends and relatives as candidates. Friendship and kinship may have some pull but to me, personal capabilities prevail over these.

Honestly, I am enthralled with the presence of many friends in Parliament and our State Legislative Assembly. For example, in Parliament, Datuk Seri Rohani Karim was my F6 classmate in Methodist Secondary School, Sibu; Datuk Robert Lawson Chuat is a friend and so is Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi.

There are so many friends including a poker mate in DUN (state legislative assembly) with some holding ministerial posts but my longtime friend is Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom whom I have known since 1975.

With the state polls approaching, I wish all my friends good luck.

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.