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Count me out

by Samuel Aubrey. Posted on November 15, 2010, Monday
Salleh Jafaruddin says he is too old to consider becoming active in politics again
Datuk Salleh Jafaruddin
KUCHING: Former political heavyweight Datuk Salleh Jafaruddin, 67, said he has no plans to contest in the state election which is due in July next year.
“Old man like me can’t be active in politics anymore,” he said when met by reporters after a public forum organised by Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) yesterday.
Rumours have been rife in recent weeks that Salleh, who is a former Deputy Education Minister and a close relative of Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and former Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abdul Rahman Yakub, might contest in the state election.
His re-appearance, after being absent from active politics for decades, has prompted many political observers to wonder if he was indeed eyeing a comeback.
Salleh described all talks about him returning to state politics as “just rumours” and that the elections should be left to “younger candidates”.
“There’s no truth in the rumours…you have to ask the rumour mongers themselves,” he said.
Salleh also claimed that he had not been approached by any party to contest in the election.
“At the moment, none (approach me),” he said, adding that he has been staying in Kuala Lumpur for some 30 years now and planned to write books.
On being a speaker at the MoCS forum, Salleh explained that his presence was merely as a concerned citizen about the affairs in the state.
“We just contribute what we can while we are still alive,” he said, stressing that he was not a member of MoCS.
MoCS, which brands itself as a social reform movement, is led by veteran journalist Francis Siah, who also spoke at the forum which was chaired by legal advisor See Chee How. See is Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sarawak’s information chief.
Salleh has stayed away from the political scene for some 20 years now. He first entered politics in the 1970s as state assemblyman for Balingian, under the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) ticket.
In 1977, he was appointed a senator and later made the deputy education minister.
A year later, he won the Mukah parliamentary seat. In 1983, he stood in Oya and won the seat uncontested.
But three years later, he stood as an Independent in the Mukah parliamentary seat and lost to (now Dato Sri) Dr Muhammad Leo Toyad of BN-PBB during the general election.
As one of the leaders of the now-defunct Persatuan Malaysia Sarawak (Permas) during the ‘Ming Court’ days, he managed to win the Subis seat but it was not enough to help the party form the state government.
In the 1990 general election, he contested under a Permas ticket but lost by a wafer thin majority of 287 votes to then Sarawak National Party (SNAP) president Datuk Amar James Wong inBintulu. His last attempt was in 1991 in Belawai.
Salleh, who again contested under Permas ticket, lost by 349 votes to (now Datuk) Hamden Ahmad of BN-PBB in a straight fight.