SARAWAK’S most active activist Peter John Jaban has demanded an apology on behalf of Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Tiong King Sing from Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) Masjid Tanah MP Datuk Wira Mas Ermieyati Samsudin for insinuating that the Bintulu MP had acted inappropriately in his official duties by over-indulging in drinking and dancing.
Jaban came to Tiong’s defence after the latter was recently slammed for “over-enjoying” himself during the Gawai festival which is intended to commemorate the start of a new harvest cycle as well as an occasion of thanksgiving and merrymaking for the Dayak community in Sarawak.
“Our Gawai festival is widely celebrated by all nationalities in Sarawak whereby our people believe in the drinking of tuak, dancing the ngajat and the Poco Poco on a wide scale. These traditions are adhered to appease the spirits, to thank them for a bountiful harvest and a better harvest in the coming year,” he pointed out in a media statement.
“Tiong was invited as a guest of honour recently and true to form, he partook in our celebration with gusto that was much admired by fellow Sarawakians but his behaviour was abhorred and criticised by certain MPs (in the Dewan Rakyat).”
Hitting out at the Bersatu women’s wing deputy chief, Jaban said Mas Ermieyati had failed to appreciate the fact that Tiong as a non-Muslim is in a position to do what a Muslim minister would not be able to do which is “to bond with and to serve both the locals and tourists well by dining and drinking alcoholic drinks or even consuming non-halal food”.
“Sarawak can easily attract tourist and become a rich state like Bali or even Singapore if it adopts a non-racial, secular and meritocratic and republican mode of governance,” envisages Jaban who is also the Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF) deputy president.
“If she (Mas Ermieyati) were the Tourism minister, she would not be able to draw the tourist dollars to our country with such a narrow mindset.”
As such, Jaban wondered if the former deputy law minister would be professional enough to issue an apology to Tiong for having tarnished his image by insinuating that he had done something inappropriate in his official duties by drinking and dancing with his fellow Sarawakians.
“Remember that she even asked for his resignation when in fact Tiong had done nothing wrong and was not even guilty of any misconduct while discharging his duties efficiently,” chided Jaban who is also the Sarawak Association for Peoples Aspiration (SAPA) publicity and information chief.
“She will most definitely need to do better to prove herself capable of contributing to the nation and be worthy of representing her constituents and her PN party before the next election.” – Nov 2, 2023