Extracts of press conference by PRS president and Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing after chairing the party supreme council meeting. May 17, 2013.
The rural-based PRS and SPDP were not being looked into properly in terms of ministerial appointments. It is the rural areas, especially in Sarawak, which are the fixed deposits for the Barisan Nasional.
If we don’t take care of the fixed deposits, somebody else might withdraw at a later time. This is what we are worried about. Because of that, I have talked to Datuk Joseph Salang whether he wanted to change his mind, and accept the offer. Unfortunately I cannot persuade him and he said “no”.
I have accepted that with big regret. But nevertheless, we will find a place where we can make use of him, his expertise in other areas. The stand made by Datuk Joseph Salang reflects the thinking of the new Dayak groups who feel that if things are not done properly, they will make a stand. And that is the first stand that we have made.
Those in authority must look at it very seriously. That is not an easy to make such a stand because the offer is there, and the perks and privileges are there, but is it what we are interested? We are interested of whether we are of any assistance to the people in the rural areas.
What we discussed was that most of supreme council members think that whatever position given to PRS must be a position where we can of help to the rural areas- not just any position. The portfolio is that the one that counts the most. If the portfolio is appropriate to the voters whom they represent, then they will take it.
Portfolio which is not good, then I don’t think we should. Datuk Joseph Entulu opened it up at the supreme council for us to decide whether he should take the appointment as a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, and what to do with him. So, I said after discussion, we talk again after I have met the Prime Minister and whether he can put Entulu in a better position where he can be of assistance.
He is not just interested in position to be full minister, doing what? That he is not interested. We told him just be patient first. Let us talk to the Prime Minister and see whether he will be able to put him (Entulu) in a better position where he can be of assistance. This you must remember – we are not interested in any position.We are in the position that can be of assistance to the people that we represent. That means they must be appropriate portfolio.
I am trying to make an appointment to seek the prime minister’s advice. Of course we appreciate and understand that he has got the final say. But we just ask for his kind consideration, to look at us again because we contribute substantially to the BN victory in Sarawak. We will look at our appointment. We don’t look at what are given to others who performed less than us. Because of that we are not very happy.
Q: You are going to meet PM and if he says that never mind, you just remain there. So what is your next step?
A: That we will discuss later. We will not disclose to you now.
Q: When are you going to meet the PM?
A:I have written a letter a week ago to seek appointment with the Prime Minister, even prior to the announcement of the Cabinet line-up last Wednesday. First I want to thank him for helping us out to win the six seats. But the other issues are along the line and I will bring it up to him.
Q: Are you sure that he want to meet you?
A:I am sure he will. We have six people….It is a formidable force, you know.
Q: Do you think that PRS will pull out of the BN since you are very disappointed?
A: That will never be in our mind. No, no, we are true blue Barisan Nasional and it is just we are not happy with the appointment. That’s all. Just because the boat is a bit leaking, it doesn’t mean that we should rock the boat. We are only not happy with the appointment. That’s all.
Q: You talk about appropriate portfolio. So what is “appropriate” to PRS?
A: It is has something to do with infrastructure, something to do with the rural population, for example, like agriculture. Bearing in mind that Sarawak is the last frontier in land development, Peninsular Malaysia has finished where lands have all been cultivated. So is Sabah, but Sarawak still has lands.
We need rural development and infrastructure and if we are given these sorts of things, we are very happy. That is why Datuk Joseph Salang refused to take offer of Deputy Tourism Minister because it is not appropriate for us. I think being in the tourism ministry has any glamour, he wants something to be done.
Q: Now that Datuk Joseph Salang has refused to take the offer, has PRS make any recommendation for the replacement?
A: Yes, there is a group of us who can make the decision. That we have done, we will send to the Prime Minister the names.
Q: If the PM refuses to meet the request, are you prepared not to have any minister in the federal government?
A:We will discuss it again when the time comes. We will not cross the bridge before we reach it. But I can tell you that our boys are all very concerned. What they must understand is that we don’t want just the position. We want the position that is of assistance to the people in the rural areas. That’s all we want.