The passing of a dream

Death of Endawie leaves a sad legacy to members of the now defunct SNAP

Dunstan EndawieKUCHING: The death of former deputy chief minister Dunstan Endawie at the age of 78 on Friday April 11 ends another chapter in the political history of Sarawak as he played a crucial role in the formation of Malaysia.

Like other Iban civil servants, Endawie who was a teacher, was consulted by leaders of Sarawak National Party on the formation of Malaysia and he agreed that Sarawak should join Sabah, Malaya and Singapore as equal partners to form the federation.

Upon his advice, and the advice of other Iban leaders, SNAP agreed on condition that its President Stephen Kalong Ningkan should be appointed the chief minister. SNAP also agreed that if a Dayak was the chief minister, a Muslim should be appointed as the governor.
He resigned as a teacher and joined SNAP.

With the declaration of the federation of Malaysia on September 16, 1963, Ningkan was appointed the Chief Minister of Sarawak.

The other members of his cabinet were James Wong – Deputy Chief Minister (SNAP), Dunstan Endawie – Minister for Local Government, (SNAP), Teo Kui Seng – Minister of Natural Resources (Sarawak Chinese Association), Abdul Taib Mahmud – Minister of Communications and Works and Awang Hipni bin Pengiran Anu (both from Berjasa).

Sarawak was represented in the federal cabinet by Berjasa’s Abdul Rahman Yakub and Temenggong Jugah Anak Barieng of Parti Pesaka Anak Sarawak (Pesaka) who was appointed the Federal Minister for Sarawak Affairs, a post specially created for him after the Federal Government refused him to be appointed the first governor.

Instead the federal government appointed Abang Openg bin Abang Sapiee as the governor.
With Endawie’s death, Abdul Taib Mahmud, now the governor of Sarawak is still the surviving member of the cabinet.

The young Endawie, like Abdul Taib, was full of enthusiasm and vision for the newly independent Sarawak and for his community and his enthusiasm often clashed with policies of the federal government.

Sharing the same views as Ningkan, he strongly defended Sarawak’s rights in the 18-point Malaysia Agreement especially on English, National Language and Borneonisation of Sarawak civil service.

This was in line with the slogan of ‘Sarawak for Sarawakians’ espoused by SNAP, the backbone of the state government.

SNAP’s strong views on these issues irked the federal government supported by Berjasa leaders notably Abdul Rahman Yakub and Abdul Taib Mahmud.

But it took the Land Bill crisis in 1965 which was initiated by Council Negri Members (State Legislative Assembly representatives) of Berjasa and Pesaka that precipitated in the downfall of Ningkan government.

SNAP left the Alliance in 1966 and went into opposition.

In the opposition, Endawie together with Ningkan and other SNAP leaders toured the State telling the people that Kuala Lumpur had reneged on its promises and violated the 18-point Malaysia Agreement especially when it wanted to introduce Malay as the National Language to replace English.

Endawie also accused Kuala Lumpur of trying to ‘Malaynise’ the Sarawak Civil Service instead of ‘Borneonisation’ it as clearly stated in the Malaysia Agreement.

In the first general election of 1969 and later postponed to 1970 due to the May 13 1969 riots in West Malaysia, SNAP won 12 out of 48 state seats and nine out of 23 parliamentary seats making it one of the strongest parties in Malaysia.

Endawie was returned to his seat of Krian.

After being elected, Endawie recruited several educated Dayaks to join SNAP, and among them were Leo Moggie, a master’s degree holder, Daniel Tajem, the first Iban lawyer, Dr. Jawie Masing, Joseph Samuel (a senior civil servant), Jonathan Sabai (a senior civil servant), and Patrick Anek Uren (lawyer).

While preparing for the1974 state and parliamentary elections using ‘Sarawak for Sarawakians’ as its slogan, SNAP leaders were threatened with arrests by State authorities under the Public Preservation of Security Regulations (PPSR).

But Endawie and other SNAP leaders were not intimidated by such threats.

When the results of the September 1974 elections were announced, SNAP won 18 state and nine parliamentary seats, making it a very formidable opposition.

Moggie, Tajem, Samuel and Dr. Jawie were elected together with other young Dayaks.

Oddly, while Endawie improved his majority in Krian, SNAP President Stephen Kalong Ningkan lost both his Layar state seat and Betong parliamentary seat to Parity Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB).

A month after the elections, Wong and eight other SNAP leaders were arrested under PPSR and later under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and sent to the famous Kemunting Camp without being given any trial.

Following his defeat, Ningkan resigned as SNAP President, and with Wong’s detention under ISA, Endawie was thrust to lead SNAP.

SNAP’s strong showing in the election had rattled the coalition State government and with Dayaks’ representation in the State cabinet negligible, the coalition government could be shaky if SNAP continued to be in the opposition.

When Yakub, who was the chief minister, visited Wong in the detention camp, he talked to him about SNAP’s return to the fold of the State and federal governments.

Negotiations started in 1975 with SNAP under the leadership of Endawie.

Several meetings were held. Finally SNAP joined the coalition government with Endawie appointed as deputy chief minister in 1976 and served until 1979 when he and leaders of Sarawak United People’s Party did not agree with Yakub over certain policies.

Endawie then called on Yakub to resign. His call on Yakub to resign in the end did not get the support of his party and SUPP. Endawie then stepped down not only as deputy chief minister, but also resigned as SNAP president.

He took an appointment as Malaysia’s High Commissioner to New Zealand.

SNAP’s crisis

His resignation as president led to the tussle for the top post and the formation of two factions in SNAP – one led by Wong who had been released from ISA detention and who believed that he had the right to lead SNAP after serving as deputy president for more than 17 years. Moreover, SNAP had by then become a multi-racial party.

The other faction was led by a federal minister Leo Moggie who thought that the party, although multi-racial had about 90% memberships coming from Dayaks, and it was befitting that a Dayak should lead the party to voice the community’s concerns and political aspirations.

While Moggie had the support of Dayak intellectuals and professionals in the party, Wong had the support of Endawie, Ningkan, and other elder Dayak leaders who were less academically qualified.

In the tussle for the leadership in December 1981, Wong’s faction with the help of Endawie and Ningkan made a clean sweep against Moggie’s group. With his election as president, Wong ran SNAP as if it was his own private company and did not tolerate any criticism against the way he organised the party.

Since then relationships between Wong and Endawie with the Dayak intellectuals worsened especially when the voices of the Dayaks in the party were stifled.

Anyone who dared to raise a Dayak issue with Wong would be asked to leave the party, or expelled.

For Tajem, who was Moggie’s right hand man and who had by then been appointed as one of the three deputy chief ministers, the party had to find an excuse to expel him from the party and force him to resign his ministerial post.

His expulsion from the party in early 1983 triggered a major crisis in the party. It led to the formation of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak in July 1983.

Dayaks’ sentiments were strong against SNAP as evident by the December 1983 state elections, when it won seven seats, while PBDS won nine.

Since that crisis, SNAP had never recovered. The party suffered another leadership crisis in 2002 when Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party was formed out of the crisis.

In the 2004 parliamentary election it lost its MP seats, and in 2006 state election, it lost all the state seats- it had had become a mosquito party, and due to the crisis, it was deregistered on 5 November 2002, but it was allowed stay of execution pending its appeal. However it lost its appeal in January 2012.

SNAP’s de-registration is traceable to the day when Wong took over the leadership of the party, and equally sharing the blame is Endawie who abruptly resigned as SNAP president making way for Wong to take over.

Looking back into the role Endawie played in Sarawak’s politics, his death left behind a legacy of a number of crises that had affected State’s course of political development.
To many former SNAP members, that is Endawie’s legacy.

His body is lying in state at the family’s house at Letong Sawa, Saratok and will be buried on April 18, 2014. – JT