KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 — A day before Sarawak’s four ruling parties made a decision to leave the Barisan Nasional to form Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), Tan Sri James Masing sent a memo to the Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg.
In it, the Sarawak deputy chief minister proposed disbanding the separate components for a single multiracial party.
In a phone interview today, Masing told Malay Mail his GPS colleagues did not immediately accept his proposal, but added that he has not “given up hope yet”.
“There is a need for Sarawak BN to review its political structure in order to stay relevant, come the 12th state election in 2021, just three years from now,” the Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president related when proposing the single multiracial party to his allies.
Masing said he told Abang Johari the result of the 14th general election showed that the communal-based party was no longer accepted by Malaysians.
While BN had lost in peninsular Malaysia, he said the majority of Sarawakians still support PRS, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, Sarawak United People’s Party and Progressive Democratic Party that form the state government and has contested under the “dacing” or weighing scales banner in the recent 14th general elections.
“The symbol of BN is still accepted in the rural areas, of which the majority of DUN seats are located,” Masing said, using the Malay acronym for the state legislative assembly.
“If not, we will be accused as changing the name of the soup without changing the herbs,” he added.
He noted that GPS parties had won 72 out of 82 state seats in the 2016 polls and 19 of 31 seats in the May 9 parliamentary election.
Apart from a multiracial party, Masing also proposed a restructure of the state civil service.
“The structure of the civil service must reflect the social fabric of Sarawak,” he said.
In Sarawak, the biggest demographic groups are Malay, Dayak and Chinese.
“The recruitment must be based on merit, and must be perceived by the public as such without ignoring the uniqueness of racial composition of Sarawak society,” he said.
Masing also said there is an urgent need for land reforms
so that Sarawakians, regardless of ethnicity, will have a sense of ownership and belonging.
At the same time, he suggested the state government provide an annual budget for a “non-Muslim unit” so that Sarawakians could continue to practice their religion without feeling neglected.