Mahathir has said it’s time for Samy Vellu to go, but what about Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud?
“In my (era of) leadership, almost everybody has retired, even me,” Mahathir was quoted as saying. “He (Samy) is the only one left.” The former premier added that the under-fire MIC president has set a record for being the longest-serving leader of a political party in the country.
Few would disagree with Mahathir on that score. But what does he have to say about White Hair?
Let’s look at their respective careers at the top:
- Samy became MIC president and Cabinet Minister in 1979 (lost Cabinet post in 2008).
- Mahathir became Umno president and PM in 1981 (quit in 2003).
- Taib Mahmud became PBB president and Sarawak Chief Minister in 1981.
Both Mahathir and Samy are no longer holding their Cabinet posts. But while Mahathir also quit the Umno presidency, Samy remains as MIC president – perhaps until GAS reaches him, that is.
Only Taib Mahmud has been holding on to both his executive and party posts for 29 years – seven years longer than Mahathir. Taib may have won his state assembly seat in elections held during this period. But today, he has become a huge liability to the BN during elections, as was evident during the Sibu by-election – an albatross around Sarawak BN’s neck.
Let’s not even talk about his management of the Sarawak economy, which has seen his family firm CMS flourish. The state economy functions in a climate of rampant cronyism, the widespread takeover of native customary land, the loss of forest reserves and environmental degradation, not to mention the Bakun Dam fiasco.
The only reason for keeping Taib Mahmud in power all this while is that, through the ‘politics of development’, he has kept Sarawak a BN ‘safe deposit’ in terms of assured parliamentary seats. But even that reason is gradually evaporating in the mists of the vanishing rainforests as Sarawakians now wake up to the full impact of his administration’s policies. Pakatan now fancies its chances of dislodging the BN from a string of state seats in the coming Sarawak election.
Do we have to wait until White Hair completes 20 dams? Time to go, Taib Mahmud. Enough is enough.