Goodbye Sir, We will rise again!

Part I : The Rise of Daniel Tajem – The Dayakism

The purpose of this write up is to apply the concepts and theories to analysis of leadership of the well-known leader. In this post, I will discussing the leadership style of Dato’ Seri Daniel Tajem. Further, I attempt to highlight the miseries – suppression and oppression faced by Dato’ Seri Daniel Tajem and the Dayaks as well as the continued infighting and unabated bickering among the political leaders, which lead to crisis after crisis in the Sarawak political field. In such crises, the Dayak leaders in particular have forgotten the real issues that affect the Dayaks unity. Then I am going to discuss Dato’ Seri Daniel Tajem leadership strengths and weaknesses. At the end, I will write on the conclusion about the leader behavior and influence on followers.

Leadership includes three fundamental clusters of skills availabilities; creating vision, garnering commitment to that vision and monitoring and managing progress toward the realization of that vision.Vision, a powerful leader such Dato’ Seri Daniel Tajem have a clear vision of where he wants the party he leads to go. Vision is the view of the person holds about what the organization will look like in the future. Some people have greater vision than others and some have vision that extended further the future than others. Vision is an essential part of leadership. Having vision requires creativity; one must be able to think and see beyond the present timeframe and beyond the usual options. Commitment, the ability to garner the commitment of others to one’s is a key cluster of leadership skills. A leader may have a vision of what an organization can become, but unless others receive and become committed to that vision, it is unlikely to be realized. Leaders can create visions, but commitment, on the other hand, is offered by the followers.

As a leader of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS), during its golden era, Dato’ Seri Daniel Tajem, foster commitment in a variety of ways; meeting the people, outreach program to rural areas as part of PBDS membership drive. His one to one interactions with his party leadership and involving others in a decision making process shows his true leadership. Monitoring and managing progress towards the vision. The third cluster of skills in leadership that is the ability to monitor and manage progress of the organization toward the vision. With Tan Sri Datuk Amar Leo Moggie was the Federal Minister for Telecommunication during that time, he leaves Tajem to administer the party and also leads the state elections. Tajem doing very well as PBDS won 15 out of 21 seats contested during the famous snap election Ming Courts Affair 1987.

Dato’ Sri Daniel Tajem’s Biodata

Dato’ Seri Daniel Tajem was born on March 15, 1936 in Sungai Tanju, Kuching. He is married with three children. His secondary education was in St Thomas’ School in Kuching. He became the first Iban lawyer when he completed his LLB in Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. Tajem’s colourful and controversial political career started in 1973 when he joined SNAP. In 1974, as a SNAP candidate, he won the Lingga state seat and successfully defended it in the 1979 state elections. Tajem and the man he replaced as party president, Datuk Amar Leo Moggie, formed PBDS in 1983 after the two lost in their bid for the Sarawak National Party (SNAP) leadership in 1981.They caused a split in SNAP when they insisted that the party be Dayak-based and should not be led by Datuk Amar James Wong Kim Min. This led to the introduction of the term “Dayakism” and the formation of PBDS.

On March 23, 1981, Tajem became Sarawak deputy chief minister with the portfolio of Agriculture and Rural Development. It was a post he held until 1987. In 1983, as a PBDS candidate, he defended his Lingga seat in 1983 and won. And in the 1986 general election, he was elected the Batang Lupar MP. Tajem became a pepper farmer when he lost his Lingga seat by 59 votes in 1987. Four years later, he regained the seat that was later re-delineated Bukit Bengunan. In 1996, he accepted the post of Malaysian High Commissioner to New Zealand which he served until Aug 16, 2000.

Sarawak National Party (SNAP) – The Formation of SNAP

SNAP was formed on 10 April 1961, the third party to be formed after the Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) and Parti Negara Sarawak (PANAS), open the way for Dayaks’ active participation not only in the effort to prepare Sarawak’s Independence, but also to be fully involved in political activities. Although there were Dayak in SUPP and PANAS, which were and are objectives respectively, the Dayaks’ interest in the two parties were secondary and their roles minimal.

Thus the Dayaks, particularly the Ibans felt that they might be left behind in the decision making of Sarawak that was desirous of becoming an independent country, if they did not have their own. So SNAP was born in Betong, Second Division, and it formation was greatly welcomed by the vast majority of the Ibans, who formed one-third of Sarawak’s population then. Among the founders were Stephen Kalong Ningkan, who become its secretary-general, J.S. Tinker (Chairman), Edward Howell, Edwin Howell, Ivory Kedit, Mathew Dana Ujai, David Lawrence Usit, Nyipa Julin and Lionel Bediman Anak Ketit.

The first general assembly of the party was held on 29 April 1961 at Munggu Bangkit, Betong, where the party was born. It became the party headquarters. About 300 people throughout Sarawak attend the assembly. Soon after the assembly, Ningkan and Tinker went to the First, Fourth and Fifth Divisions canvassing for membership and at the same time forming branches and sub-branches. It took them three months before returning to Betong. Edward Jeli who joined the party later canvassed for membership in Miri while others concentrated in the Second Division.

After serious thoughts, SNAP accepted non-Dayaks as party members in 1963 with James Wong Kim Min as the first Chinese to join as a member. Others who later joined the party included Wee Hood Teck, Wee Boon Ping and Ho Ah Chon. Abang Othman Bin Datuk Abang Haji Moasili was the first Malay to join the party. Wee Hood Teck and Wee Boon Ping became the main financers of the party. Their presence and that of other non-Dayaks made SNAP a multi-racial party, although the bulk of its members were Dayaks.

In August 1962, another party came into being in Sibu to cater for the Ibans of Batang Rajang. Its promoters refused to join SNAP, which they said, only catered for Ibans from Saribas. The party was known as Parti Pesaka Anak Sarawak (PESAKA) and among the initiators were Penghulu Masam Anak Radin, Pengarah Banyang, Penghulu Chundi Anak Resa and Penghulu Umpau. Temenggong Jugah, Temenggong Oyong Lawai Jau and Jonathan Bangau joined later. While Jugah and Oyong Lawai Jau were incipiently members of PANAS, Bangau was from SUPP. Others Penghulus from other divisions such as Penghulu Tawi Sli (Second Division) and Penghulu Abok Anak Jalin (Bintulu) also joined PESAKA. PESAKA was, therefore, known as the Penghulus’ Party (Malay: Parti Penghulu).

However, the person who actually mooted the idea of forming PESAKA was Thomas Kana, a former dresser at Kuala Belait. He was made the first secretary-general of the party. Incidentally, Ningkan, a SNAP founding member, was also a dresser at Kuala Belait. During their days in Kuala Belait, Ningkan and Kana greatly disliked one another and often threw insults at one another. When they returned to Sarawak, Ningkan formed SNAP and Kana formed PESAKA and both started to sow the seeds of disunity among the Ibans of Sarawak principally between the Ibans of Batang Rajang and the Iban of Saribas. They refused to compromise as both wanted to become “big” in a party and in the government. As far-fetched as it may be, Dayak unity, as we know it today took roots in the major differences and personal animosity of these two men.

The SNAP Crisis

The crisis began in June 1980 when Dunstan Endawie Enchana who was the deputy chief minister of Sarawak and the president of SNAP, resigned from the party presidency. He was later appointed to Malaysian High Commissioner to New Zealand. Dustan wanted Daniel Tajem to succeed him as the deputy chief minister while James Wong to become the president of the party. Joseph Samuel was also nominated for the party president post by party members. In a 25-member meeting, the delegates overwhelmingly supported Joseph Samuel for Sarawak deputy chief minister. However, Abdul Rahman Ya’kub, who was the chief minister of Sarawak, went against their wishes and appointed Daniel Tajem as the new deputy chief minister of Sarawak. Abdul Rahman’s action has caused anger among the SNAP members because their wish was not respected.

Leo Moggie was appointed as the party acting president after that. In March 1981, Abdul Rahman stepped down from the chief minister post and succeeded by his nephew Abdul Taib Mahmud. During SNAP party election in December 1981, James Wong challenged Leo Moggie for the president post. Moggie faction felt that SNAP, being a Dayak-based party, should be led by a Dayak instead of a Chinese. However, Wong’s faction felt that James Wong has contributed so much to the party so he should be given an opportunity to lead the party. James Wong successfully defeated Moggie in the party president’s race by a narrow majority of 15 votes. A supporter of Leo Moggie, Daniel Tajem also lost the vice-president post to Wong’s supporter, Edward Jeli. James Wong tried to calm down the party by offering vice-president posts to Leo Moggie and Daniel Tajem. However, such offering did not satisfy the Moggie’s faction.

The Malaysian parliament was dissolved on 29 March 1982 to make way for 1982 general election. James Wong tried to exclude Leo Moggie’s supporters (Edmund Langgu, Edwin Tangkun, and Jonathan Narwin) in contesting for the parliamentary election. Chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud decided to honour the list of candidates submitted by James Wong. However, Sarawak ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) led by Taib, lost 5 parliamentary seats to the opposition. SNAP was a component party of BN at that time. Three seats were lost to Patrick Uren, Edmund Langgu, and Edwin Tanggun where all of them were former SNAP members contesting against the SNAP party.

The Leadership Crisis and The Formation of PBDS – Tajem Character’s

In 1983, Daniel Tajem, who was still the deputy chief minister of Sarawak, was expelled from the SNAP party because he was found guilty of helping the former SNAP candidates to contest against the official candidates listed by SNAP party in 1982 parliamentary election. However, Daniel Tajem refused to step down from the deputy chief minister post. Subsequently, in July 1983, Daniel Tajem and Leo Moggie formed a new party named Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) in order to challenge James Wong’s leadership in SNAP. Leo Moggie became the president of PBDS while Daniel Tajem became the deputy president of the party. PBDS immediately applied to join Taib’s Barisan Nasional (BN) despite strong opposition by SNAP. PBDS was subsequently admitted into BN by Taib Mahmud despite strong opposition by Balang Seling, the secretary-general of SNAP. The decision to admit PBDS into BN was also welcomed by Mahathir Mohammad, the prime minister of Malaysia at that time.

The admission of PBDS into the BN has weakened the position of SNAP in the coalition because some of the electoral seats by SNAP would have to be given to PBDS. The formation of PBDS party further fragmented the voice of Dayak community in the Sarawak state government. The Dayak community was already divided between Muslim-bumiputera based Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Dayak-based Sarawak National Party (SNAP), and Chinese-based Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) before this. In 1983 elections, SNAP wanted to retain all the 18 seats it held previously in 1979 Sarawak state elections and was unwilling to give in to PBDS’s demands for seats. Abdul Taib Mahmud, the chief minister of Sarawak at that time, then decided to allow SNAP to contest against PBDS in 1983 Sarawak state election under their respective party symbols instead of a common symbol of BN coalition. In this election, SNAP fielded candidates in 18 seats while PBDS fielded candidates in 14 seats. However, SNAP only managed to win 8 seats and PBDS won 6 seats after the election.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s