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Taib’s son for Balingian seat?

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Taib-Bekir-300x199KUCHING, Feb 11 –  Will Sarawak follow in the footsteps of Singapore’s Lee dynasty?

Latest rumour linked to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s Balingian seat has thrown up his son Mahmud Abu Bekir as a likely contender.

The speculation also has it Mahmud will not takeover as CM as yet.

#TamilSchoolmychoice

“He must wait… pay his dues… wait his turn” said atext message from a Sibu based political observer.

The possibility of Mahmud moving into active political life is not new.

Even before the 2011 state elections there was a strong rumour than he would take-off from where his brother Sulaiman left.

Sulaiman, who was elected Kota Samarahan MP in the 2008 general election and appointed deputy federal minister, went AWOL following his mother’s death in 2009. Taib was reportedly deeply disappointed.

Mahmud, a successful businessman with reportedly stakes in 85 international companies in addition to those in Sarawak,  was at the time reportedly not interested in politics.

Rumours of  him moving into active politics started circulating early 2011 and at one point he even openly declared his interest.

But Mahmud’s political route was momentarily hijacked after his wife of 18 years Shanaz Majid filed for a RM400 million divorce settlement.

The embarrassing syariah court proceedings has since revealed Mahmud’s billions in assets, giving an additional insight into the Taib family’s extensive wealth and affirming widely reported allegations of corruption.

The case is ongoing but if Mahmud is the eventual plan, then a by-election in Balingian may not happen after all and instead the family will work towards a landslide victory in the 2016 state polls and ‘allow’ him to earn his place within his father’s Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) circles.

Dynasties are not uncommon in Malaysia. In place are the Razaks, Husseins and the Mahathirs.

Perhaps this is the real deal struck between Putrajaya and Petrajaya.

Mirroring Singapore’s dynasty?

The likelihood of Mahmud being groomed to step into his father’s seat post 2021 is not far fetched considering Sarawak’s personal and historical ties with Singapore.

Both signed the Malaysia Agreement 1963 together with Sabah. Singapore was booted out in 1965 and went on to chart a world class economy. Sabah lost its soul to Umno but Sarawak under Taib retained its dignity and ‘autonomy’.

It is a known fact that Lee Kuan Yew and Taib are close and ties between the ‘nations’ are good.

Between founding Singapore Prime Minister Kuan Yew and son Hsien Loong was Goh Chock Tong.

Between Taib and the possibility of his son taking over as CM are several probabilities – Alfred Jabu, Abang Johari Tun Openg, Adenan Satem and Awang Tengah Ali Hassan – all PBB’s top echelon.

Meanwhile Bernama has speculated on two other possible contenders for Balingian – former minister Effendi Nawawi and an official from the Tourism Ministry Akit Sebli

According to a Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) insider, Bekir “maybe the prefered choice”.

But this was only because Effendi had previously said he was not interested in the Chief Minister’s post.

“It won’t make any sense for Effendi to go for a state seat if he does not want the chief minister’s position,” said the insider who did not wish to be identified.

Taib, who has been the Balingian assemblyman since 2001, is set to vacate his chief minister’s post at the end of the month.

His party PBB have recommended him to be the next Yang Dipertua Negri (TYT), which means he has to let go his Balingian seat.

Should Taib resign before June 20, then there will a by-election. Any resignation after June would mean the seat need not be replaced through a by-election as the next state elections will be just two years away.

Feb 26 meeting

Taib, who is also Balingian PPP branch chairman, is yet to name his successor.

He has maintained that he will first seek an audience with the Governor before announcing his retirement and successor.

Taib will reportedly meet with the Governor on Saturday.

The Governor’s term officially ends in Feb 28 but there is a possibility of appointing an acting TYT in the months between now and when Taib returns from his three months vacation in May/June.

In which case, the insider opined there may not be a need for a by-election.

“You cannot rule out the fact that he can become TYT after June, not necessary by the end of this month.

“The current term for TYT can either be extended by another three months or they can allow the current state assembly speaker become the acting head of state.

“If nothing happens in the next few days, then the next thing to watch is the state cabinet meeting on Feb 26,” said the party insider.

Meanwhile the Sarawak Election Commission director Takun Sunggah has reportedly said that under the state’s constitution there would be no by-election if there was any casual vacancy within two years from the expiry of the State Legislative Assembly.

“The Sarawak assembly will expire on June 20, 2016. So the two-year period begins on June 21, 2014,” he said.

– FREE MALAYSIA TODAY