Dalat assemblywoman Datin Fatimah Abdullah is not surprised that Parti Ekonomi Rakyat Sarawak Bersatu (PERSB) protem president Salleh Mahali plans to contest in Dalat.

“It is no surprise to me because he had intended to do so for quite a while,” she told reporters after officiating at the SMK Sungai Maong Open Day here yesterday.

“We know him. The people know him. Let the people judge for themselves. Let the voters decide. After all, this is a democratic country,” added Fatimah.

Salleh stated his intention in a press conference yesterday, saying that he would contest for the Dalat seat in the state election which must be called by July next year.

Fatimah revealed that during the last election in 2006, Salleh was suspected of supporting an independent, and had tried to contest against Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud in Mukah.

Of course, added Fatimah, he denied it. She said the people by now should know Salleh’s character and record in the party.

On another note, Fatimah was also asked about PERSB’s call to limit the term of Chief Minister and cabinet ministers to a maximum of two terms.

“It is unreasonable because it shows that they (PERSB) do not know the administration processes. For a state like Sarawak, which is big and has many segregated rural populations, it is not easy.

“It takes a lot of time,” she said, while pointing out that it took Taib more than two terms to turn Sarawak into what it was now.

“It is not easy. It takes a lot of political will, experience, innovation and creativity to be able to do what Pehin Sri has achieved now.

“For them to suggest that two terms is enough, it shows that they don’t really understand the process of running the state, let alone develop it.

“What Sarawak has now is not mere hard work for 10 years or two terms. It is based on so many years of hardwork and high commitment, as well as creativity and innovation,” she said.

Meanwhile, Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman said it was up to the people to decide on the duration for the Chief Minister’s post.

He said to limit a leader’s length of service would be waste of one’s ability, adding that the state needed a highly capable Chief Minister like Taib to plan and carry out development projects.

“If we limit those who have the quality, most likely programmes that had been planned will not be carried out,” he said.

In any case, Daud, who is also the vice president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), said it was too early for PERSB to voice out its dream as they were not even approved by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) yet.

The PERSB sponsorship committee, led by Salleh Mahali, was launched on Friday. Among its aims was to impose a limit on how long an individual could serve as a Chief minister, deputy chief Minister and state cabinet member.

According to PERSB, this was to avoid abuse of power.
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