The return of the reluctant politician

Posted on March 24, 2009



Who is the reluctant politician?

In a post in November, 2007, I suggested that such a person “has what it takes, who doesn’t want to get into Parliament, but gets in out of love for his country and his people, does the best he can, and can’t wait to have someone take his place”.

I met and spoke to one last Saturday in Sarawak.

I am, of course referring to PKR’s candidate for the forthcoming Batang Ai by-election, Jawah Gerang.


Doesn’t want to get into Parliament, but is now willing to stand in this by-election out of love for his country and his people?

Jawah told me that after 22 years of active politics, and after being dropped from the list of nominations in the last general elections, he felt that he had had enough, more so after being sidelined by the BN leadership in Sarawak for no reason other than speaking up for the marginalised Ibans.

“Was that not why I was elected? To look out and speak up for my constituents? In BN, you get punished if you try and do what’s right, if what you try to do runs against the interest of the leadership”, Jawah said.

“Why PKR”, I asked.

He replied that he believed that the PKR leadership, together with the other Pakatan component parties, were sincere in wanting to bring about the many reforms that were much needed to improve the lot of the marginalised in Sarawak.

“The marginalised in Sarawak, or just the marginalised Ibans? And what about the other marginalised anak Bangsa Malaysia who have long suffered at the hands of BN? Ought he  not to look out for them as well?”, I asked.

He replied that he had heard of anak Bangsa Malaysia but was not quite sure what the phrase meant.

I explained that more and more of us in Semenanjung recognise that the BN government has long failed to foster a sense of oneness amongst the citizenry. Instead, BN continues to try and divide and sow discord between the people to perpetuate its rule.

I explained that the anak Bangsa Malaysia initiative is a society-driven endeavour to build a nation of a single people : anak Bangsa Malaysia.

I explained further that whilst Malaysians will always be culturally diverse, as citizens under a supreme constitution, we are all equal.

The anak Bangsa Malaysia initiative, I explained, whilst still very much in its infancy, hopes to slowly begin the process of undoing the ill-effects of over 30 years of BN’s divide and rule.

Jawah said he liked the idea and that it was a good initiative.

“Would you help us bring this initiative to Sarawak if you are nominated and win this by-election?”, I asked.

“Yes”, Jawah replied.

“What can you do for the people of Batang Ai if you are nominated and elected?”, I asked.

He replied that if he was nominated and elected, he felt that would be in a position to help Pakatan make serious inroads into the other constituencies when the next state elections is called for. Helping to get Pakatan into the state government, he said, was the best thing he could do, not just for the people of Batang Ai, but for all the people of Sarawak.   In this regard, he said, he would not only be helpi

Does Jawah have what it takes to do the job?

Both before and after speaking to him, I made time to get the views of people on the ground on this man.

He’s much respected.

The day before, I also briefly met the other prospective candidate, Nicholas Bawin, and then inquired from others of and about him.

Also very much respected.

For the record, that Saturday evening, I put in a call to a contact at the PKR HQ and said that, for whatever it was worth, my sense was that Jawah was the man for Pakatan.

I reproduce below this excerpt from a report in Malaysiakini today to help you make your own assessment if indeed Jawah has what it takes.

“Jawah was the member of parliament for Lubok Antu for five terms. He is a graduate in economics from University of Malaya. He worked with a bank in Kuching before being recruited by the now defunct Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) to contest the Lubok Antu parliamentary by-election in 1987. He was then returned unopposed in 1990 and 1995 elections. This is Jawah’s first time contesting for a state seat. His opponent is Malcolm Mussen who was named last week by BN as its candidate. Noted for his fiery speeches, Jawah has become something of a symbol or even an icon in Batang Ai for his courage in articulating Iban issues which did not endear him to the top leadership of the state BN”.

Would Jawah be looking to get someone young and groom the person to take his place in Parliament as soon as possible?

Truth be told, I did not tackle the man on this but, Jawah, if you’re reading this, please believe me when I say now that if you are lected to office come 7th April, we’ll be the first to tell you if and when it’s time for you to go.

Posted in: Batang Ai