By John Isaac
A SENIOR Sarawak leader has voiced confidence that the Dayak community will continue to back the ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak at the coming state elections.
James Jemut Masing, head of Parti Rakyat Sarawak and a deputy chief minister, acknowledged that the contest for the Dayak vote had become more crowded but says he is not perturbed.
“Dayaks are the largest community in Sarawak, accounting for 44% of the population, so everyone wants to win these votes, and we cannot stop them from trying. But it does not matter because the Dayaks know which party can best look after their interests,” said Masing.
His party and its allies in the ruling coalition all have Dayak leaders.
Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, Progressive Democratic Party, Sarawak United People’s Party and PRS are members of GPS.
Their challengers are opposition parties including Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB), Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PKK), Aspirasi, PKR, DAP, and Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDS).
PSB, led by Sarawak strongman Wong Soon Koh has been building its Dayak credentials by roping in leaders like Selangau MP Baru Bian, Sri Aman MP Masir Kujat and Opar assemblyman Ranum Mina.
Masing said the emergence of the splinter parties in Sarawak had prompted the Dayak community to be more aware and become involved in politics.
Dayaks are quite adventurous in politics, he said. However,Dayak voters would vote for the party capable of taking care of their welfare.
“Regardless of who is going to fight us, we must be united, and it is very important to us,” stressed Masing who is also state infrastructure minister.
He said GPS has proven itself, unlike Pakatan Harapan which scrapped three bridge projects when it was in power. These projects have since been taken over by the Sarawak government.
According to reports in FMT, the projects were Batang Lupar Bridge, Batang Igan Bridge, and Batang Rambungan Bridge which cost RM1.2 billion.
“We in GPS have our struggle and objectives. Now we want to contain the spread of Covid-19, once we have contained the pandemic then we can move on to post-Covid-19 measures, particularly reviving the economy and developing Sarawak,” he said, adding the people were aware of the state government’s direction.
“To me, the opposition is only talking. Just like they did before the 14th General Election. PH talked so much and made too many promises. I think the people of Sarawak knew that then and were not easily influenced by their promises.”
He said after the election, PH formed the government and was unable to fulfill their promises.
“They could only survive for 22 months because they can’t deliver on their promises. But GPS is different, we promise, we must deliver,” said Masing.