By John Isaac
OPAR rep Datuk Ranum Mina said he will not cross over to Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) as it was not the ‘right path’ and that Datuk Amar Michael Manyin Jawong, who invited him to cross over, should instead join him in Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB)
Ranum, who is currently a PSB senior vice-president, said he felt both “tickled and flattered” to be invited by Manyin, who he described as a friend and ex-Barisan Nasional (BN) comrade, to leave PSB and return to GPS.
He added that he felt honoured because Manyin being a senior vice-president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) had extended the invitation to him.
This, he said, could mean that PBB must have recognised his strength and appreciated his service in Opar much more than his ex-comrades in Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP).
He also said he felt ‘slighted’ that SUPP led by its president Datuk Sri Sim Kui Hian did not think to invite him back despite him securing Opar for them for close to two decades.
Ranum said very few lawmakers in SUPP could match his service record.
“I would like to sincerely say thank you to my friend Manyin for keeping me in his thoughts but I will swim and sink with PSB. PSB, despite its short history and limited resources, has shown that it cares for the most vulnerable communities in Sarawak and has listed native customary right (NCR) land issues among its top priorities.
“In the same breath I would like to invite Manyin to leave GPS now and join us in PSB. GPS’ presence and role in Perikatan Nasional and their consequential association with extremist elements from PAS and UMNO is not the ideal development that the majority of Sarawakians want to see and Manyin should not be a part of it,” he said in a statement reported by Borneo Post.
It was issued in response to a news report on Sunday in which Manyin was quoted as saying GPS’s dorr was still open to Ranum to rejoin the coalition.
Ranum said he had clearly made the choice to leave SUPP or BN and join PSB, when it was still called United People’s Party (UPP).
“Truth be told I am glad I left GPS. With the benefit of hindsight that decision made six years ago was the correct decision.”
On his Opar constituency, he said the voters consist mainly of the Bidayuh dialectical groups Jagoi Bratak and Salako Rara.
He said the Salako Rara group from which he comes, was among the smallest ethnic groups in Sarawak, numbering slightly more than 12,000 and the vast majority reside in the Lundu/Sematan area.
“Despite the small size of the community and despite my best efforts as the assemblyman for Opar, the Salako Rara community is still lagging behind the other communities including the community of our brethren, the Jagoi Bratak bidayuh in the other half of N1 Opar.
“That is a testimony to leaders in SUPP and the top Bidayuh leaders in GPS. In SUPP/GPS politics, we were there just to make up the numbers. We were too small a group to be a force to be reckoned with,” he said.
He added that at a conference held at Kpg Tebaro in Lundu on Sept 17 in 2018, the Selako Rara community listed higher education opportunities and native customary rights land issues as some of the most urgent issues affecting the community.
“While these are issues that had also impeded the Dayaks throughout Sarawak for over half a century, these issues among the Salako Raras stand out as anomaly as Lundu Sematan is so near to the state capital,” he said.