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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Concerns loom over possible merger

Talks of a merger between two Dayak-based parties Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) remain as talks only as the two sides have not met officially since the proposal was made in 2005.

"The talks of merger are still on, but we have not met," admitted William Mawan SPDP president after a supreme council meeting yesterday.

"Even though the merger remains illusive, we have other ways of strengthening one another on the ground. We must be seen together first and demonstrate we work to help one another," he said.

Asked if there were any obstacles, Mawan said: "There are no obstacles and as far as I am concerned, I am prepared to step aside in order to allow some one to head the new entity."

"We are very committed to the idea of a merger," he said, adding that there was no time frame for it to be realised.

The merger talks between the two was said to have been proposed by Chief Minster Abdul Taib Mahmud in 2005 in order to strengthen the two parties especially following the de-registration of Snap and PBDS in 2002 and 2004 respectively.

Both SPDP and PRS were born out of the demise of the two parties. For SPDP, it was registered in November 2002 and PRS was registered in Oct 21, 2004, the day when PBDS' registration was revoked.

Sources close to Taib said that the chief minister did not want to be seen as having a hand in the de-registration of the two-Dayak based parties.

Chinese leaders call for caution

But when the idea of a merger was proposed to strengthen 'Dayak unity', Chinese leaders of the two parties called for caution, because any move to merge must be done with great care.

Tiong King Sing, SPDP treasurer general, who was very much against the merger, was reported to have said: "There is no point to merge, if we have to quarrel over who should be the president and who should hold important posts."

"There is no point to merge if at the end of the day, both sides get embroiled in the fight for top posts. If this happens why should we rock the boat?" he asked.

Sng Chee Hua, who was then PRS deputy president, was also reported to be against the merger, saying that some had to make sacrifices if the merger went through.

"No doubt, there will be a bigger room, a bigger boat, but the question is who will be its captain," said Sng.

Now Sng is no longer with PRS and yet PRS is hesitant about the merger, although publicly it is for it.

According to a PRS supreme council member, PRS does not want Tiong to be in the new entity.

"PRS will closely watch SPDP's triennial delegates conference to be held in November this year and the role Tiong is going to play in the party.

"Because of this, PRS' own conference has to be delayed by a year," he said, adding that the decision to merge or not would be known by then. malaysiakini

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