Chong Chieng Jen, the boyish-looking parliamentarian from Kuching did not mince his words. He couldn’t have put it more bluntly.
The departure of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud is long overdue, he declared on Mkini.tv’s ‘Uncensored’ talk show this week.
Chong Chieng Jen, 37, the two-term MP for Bandar Kuching, reasoned that after 27 years as chief minister, Taib should have completed whatever he hoped to achieve for the state “if he has any plans at all”.
Stressing that 27 years is “too long a time” to be chief minister, Chong states the obvious - it’s time for Taib to pack his bags and go.
“Things that have not materialised (and) we should leave it to another person to implement,” he told ‘Uncensored’ host Francis Paul Siah on the talk show recorded on Thursday.
In fact, Chong is not the first DAP elected representative in Sarawak to openly call for Taib’s departure. His DAP colleague, Ting Tze Hui (Meradong), made a similar request in the state legislative assembly some time ago.
“As expected, she was heckled by BN backbenchers who rose to speak in support of the chief minister,” said Chong who is also the state assemblyperson for Kota Sentosa.
Although the MP acknowledged that Taib has done “some good” for the state, he was also quick to add that “Taib has done more harm than good”.
Issues relating to the distribution of wealth are worsening under the current administration as the people of Sarawak are facing great difficulties in earning a decent living.
Asked if Taib’s lengthy administration was the cause of the perpetration of corruption in the state, Chong said legally speaking it may not be corruption but improper dealings.
“He has been in power for 27 years and the family has gained astronomical wealth … something like that in my view is improper.”
Citing the example of shares owned by Taib’s family members in one of Sarawak’s largest cement manufacturing and construction companies, Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS), Chong said it evidently shows improper activities.
“(Besides that) a lot of state contracts are awarded to CMS … I would not call it corruption as defined in the Anti-Corruption Act but it is highly improper with him (Taib) being the head of the state administration,” he pointed out.
“There seems to be a concentration of government contracts given to CMS, for example the RM300 million awarded to CMS and Naim Chandera for the construction of the state assembly building and many other road and building contracts are also given to them (CMS) without proper open tenders,” said Chong.
Asked why the opposition has been unable to nail such blatant abuse of power, Chong said as a politician, his powers were limited although he had brought the issues up in Parliament for the attention of the Anti-corruption Agency.
DAP leaders, he said, were doing all they could to “create awareness” among the populace on the inappropriate activities of the current administration, adding that people are now more aware of what’s going on in the state.
Chong also revealed that he was not in the chief minister’s good books as he had often spoke in retaliation against Taib’s policies.
“During the June sitting, I spoke (in the state assembly) about the chief minister and the dealings of his family members but the speaker said it is sub-judice. If I cannot talk bad about the chief minister, then the BN representatives should not be allowed to sing his praises too” said Chong.
He said Taib was angered after he had cited a Confucius proverb which states that: “When the leader is rich and the people are rich, the leader is a good leader. But if the leader is rich and people are poor, then the leader ought to be ashamed of himself”.
Chong also mentioned an incident when the chief minister lost his cool and pointed his finger at him (Chong) in anger inside the august House.
Alfred Jabu is incompetent
Asked for his opinion on Iban Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu, Chong described him as incompetent as he (Jabu) was not doing much to uplift the well-being of his community.
Many Dayaks are still being deprived of educational opportunities and economic resources, he said, adding that education is the key to improve the well-being of the people.
Chong also said he suspected a conspiracy as to why the people, especially the indigenous communities, were deprived of opportunities and resources to better themselves.
He joked that the BN government is probably afraid of losing ground if the people become smarter.
“They want to block access to the community for fear that they will get smarter and become more knowledgeable and can see that the Barisan Nasional government is horrible. So the more educated the people are, the less control they (BN) have,” he quipped.
Abang Johari a suitable candidate
Asked for his choice to fill Taib Mahmud’s shoes, Chong opined that among the present state cabinet members, Housing Minister Abang Johari Tun Openg would be a suitable candidate to become the next chief minister.
“When he answers questions in the state assembly, he shows that he knows his stuff,” he remarked.
On his choice of a potential chief minister aong the Dayak community, Chong was hesitant in revealing a name but was also quick to add, “not Alfred Jabu”.
On the competition between DAP and Sarawak United People’s Party (Supp), Chong said that DAP was confident of doing better in Supp areas in the coming elections.
“But we are not only going to contest in Supp areas alone, we are also starting to lay our ground work in PBB (Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu) areas as well”.
Lastly, Chong said he would like to see less misery among Sarawakians and that they should be leading more comfortable lives unlike what they are exposed to today.
Ending the show, Siah credited Chong’s father, former Repok state assemblyperson Chong Siew Chiang as the man responsible for bringing the DAP to Sarawak in 1978. Chong Sr was also the first Sarawak DAP chairperson - malaysiakini.com
About Chong Chieng Jen
Chong Chieng Jen, 张健仁, a Malaysian lawyer by profession and elected Democratic Action Party (DAP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Bandar Kuching in 2004 and 2008, and DAPSY Deputy Chief. In 2006 Chong Chien Jen was elected to the Sarawak State Assembly as the member for the newly-created seat of Kota Sentosa. Chong is also DAP Sarawak's State Secretary.
Chong Chieng Jen was born in 1971 and is married with 3 children.
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