THERE is still over a month to go before the Sarawak United Peoples’ Party’s (SUPP) Triennial Delegates Conference (TDC) on December 8-11.
As with politics, of course, the back room deals and campaigning have already begun.
So in one corner you have the party’s current deputy secretary-general Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh and in the other you have organising secretary Datuk Seri Peter Chin, vying for the president’s post.
Dato Sri Wong has already announced that his running mate will be central working committee (CWC) member and Senadin branch chairman Datuk Lee Kim Shin.
Both are SUPP’s only Chinese candidates to get elected in last April’s state elections — in Bawang Assan and Senadin respectively — when the party lost a record 13 out of the 19 seats it contested.
As things stand, Wong apparently also has the support of Opar assemblyman Ranum Mina, Engkilili assemblyman Dr Johnical Rayong, Bengoh assemblyman Dr Jerip Susil and Sri Aman assemblyman Datuk Francis Harden Hollis — the other four SUPP candidates to actually win their seats.
Datuk Seri Chin is Miri Member of Parliament and had previously indicated he might not seek re-election. But this sudden interest in SUPP’s top post seems to indicate that the Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water may have changed his mind.
Although he has yet to confirm his team members, it is rumoured to be made up of secretary-general Datuk Sim Kheng Hui , treasurer-general Datuk David Teng , publicity and information chief Datuk Alfred Yap, vice-president Datuk Lily Yong and Andy Chia as well as youth chief Sih Hua Tong.
Datuk Sim is apparently looking at the deputy president’s post, Datuk Teng is said to want to contest the secretary-general’s post, while Datuk Yap is looking at the treasurer-general’s post. Yes, it will reportedly be a swapping of portfolios.
Now in the April elections, Datuk Teng was defeated in Repok, Sih lost by a whoping 8,381 votes in Batu Lintang, Datuk Yap lost for the second time in Kota Sentosa (the first was in 2006) and Chia lost in Pujut.
Datuk Sim was already a defeated candidate — having lost Pending in 2006, while Datuk Yong lost Padungan in the same election.
If this really is Datuk Seri Chin’s team, one does wonder why he would choose candidates who have shown themselves to be un-winnable. Candidates whom voters have already rejected to lead the party in a time when it so desperately needs rejuvenation and transformation.
You’ll also notice that this list, if indeed true, has no Bumiputera members. Strange when SUPP would have been almost completely wiped out had it not been for its Bumiputera representatives.
Food for thought.
Let’s also remember what political partie are supposed to do. Serve the people. In order to do that, they have to win seats. In order to win seats, you need winnable candidates of the people’s choosing.
The party’s name is Sarawak United Peoples’ Party. Whoever takes over the helm of the party should ensure that it can reflect its name again.
A report from The Borneo Post.
It’s Peter Chin vs Soon Koh
By Zoee Hillson
KUCHING: The coming SUPP triennial delegates’ conference (TDC) will likely see a straight fight between deputy secretary-general Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh and organising secretary Datuk Seri Peter Chin for the presidency.
Chin, who is Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, yesterday confirmed that he will be contesting for the top post as he has the support of 32 of the party’s 42 branches.
Wong, who is also Second Finance Minister and Minister of Local Government and Community Development, announced his candidacy on Oct 9 in Sibu where he, among others, said he had the support of many branches in northern, southern and central Sarawak.
Speaking to reporters after a closed-door meeting with 310 SUPP branch leaders, Chin said his decision to contest during the TDC, which will be held from Dec 9-11, was prompted by the large show of support for him.
“I have been persuaded by all these comrades that I have worked with for so many years, especially in my role as organising secretary.
“They felt that it is appropriate for me to accept this challenge rather than to shy away from this responsibility. Hence, I accept this responsibility to lead this party,” said Chin, who is Miri Member of Parliament.
The 10 branches which did not send any representatives to the meeting yesterday were Bengoh, Telang Usan, Sibu, Senadin, Opar, Mukah, Kapit, Kanowit, Belaga and Baram.
He said he now felt it was not right for him to wash his hands off and retire when expectations were running high within the party for him to succeed Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan.
Dr Chan, who is a former deputy chief minister, would not be seeking re-election.
He made known his intention after he lost in his stronghold of Piasau to a DAP political novice in the April 16 state election.
Chin told the packed press conference at the party headquarters here that he had already spoken to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak regarding his decision to contest for the party president’s post.
Asked whether he has the support of Dr Chan, Chin replied that he had spoken to him before the meeting yesterday, but won’t divulge the details.
“Well, I think I better not disclose it. I think it is for you to ask him (Dr Chan).
“I would also not like to disclose any conversation I had with Datuk Lee Kim Shin (Senadin assemblyman who has teamed up with Wong to contest as secretary-general),” he said.
Asked about speculations that he would team up with party treasurer Datuk David Teng, Chin said he had not formed a team yet.
“What is the point of forming a team when at the end of the day it is the duty of the delegates at the TDC to decide who leads the party,” he said.
Teng, who was also present at the press conference, commented that he was not interested in the presidency but would leave his fate to the delegates to decide.
Meanwhile, in a press statement issued to reporters covering the meeting yesterday, Chin’s camp said they would like to put their hearts together to take the party forward from the setbacks suffered in the 2006 and 2011 state elections.
The statement included three of the party’s focus and they are:
-The party must always come first. Every party member and its leaders, at all levels, must abide by and implement the policies of the party central.
-We must strengthen our party discipline. The members of the disciplinary committee should comprise party elders who are not members of the central committee.
-We must groom a team of second echelon leaders to take over this `Transformation Team’ who will retire in two or three years’ time.
They added that certain provisions of the party’s constitution should be amended to, among others, include the setting up of a Council of Elders.
“We must go all out to recruit more Bumiputera members to make SUPP a truly multi-racial party in Sarawak,” they stated.
The report from Bernama:
It’s Wong Soon Koh versus Peter Chin for SUPP president post
KUCHING, Oct 16 (Bernama) — The Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) triennial delegates conference (TDC) in December will see a contest for the president post between a state cabinet minister and a federal cabinet minister.
Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister and Miri Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Peter Chin today confirmed his intention to contest the president post a week after state Local Government and Community Development Minister and Bawang Assan assemblyman Datuk Seri Woon Soon Koh made a similar announcement in Sibu.
At a packed press conference, Chin who is the party organising secretary, said he made the decision today following “persuasion” by 306 grassroot leaders from 33 party branches at a meeting held at the party headquarters, here, today. SUPP has 43 branches statewide.
“They feel it is inappropiate for me to shy away from responsibility but to accept it to lead the party,” he told reporters after the meeting.
Chin said it was very hard for him to reject or denied the wishes of the many grassroot leaders who attended the meeting.
A total of 600 delegates will attend the SUPP TDC from Dec 8 to 11 which is expected to mark a new era for the state’s oldest political party, which has been trying to win the votes of urban Chinese after failing to do so in the April state election.
The party has come with a fresh strategy to ensure its survival by lining up more young and dynamic leaders.
On speculation that he will bring party treasurer Datuk David Teng to team up for the race, Chin said he had not formed a team yet.
“What’s the point of having a team when at the end of the day, it is the duty of the delegates at the TDC to pick the candidates to lead the party.”
Teng who is former Repok assemblyman, said he was not interested to contest for a top post but would leave it to the delegates to decide the likely candidates for the top posts.
On Oct 9 in Sibu, Wong who is SUPP Sibu branch chairman, announced that he was willing to contest the party president post after being given commitment and pledges of support from leaders and members of the party’s northern, southern and central branches.
Yesterday, Wong who is party deputy secretary-general, further announced that Senadin SUPP branch chairman and Assistant Minister of Social Development (Sports) and of Communications, Datuk Lee Kim Shin, would be his running mate.
Wong also claimed that they had the support of Opar assemblyman Ranum Mina, Engkilili assemblyman Dr Johnical Rayong, Bengoh assemblyman Dr Jerip Susil and Sri Aman assemblyman Datuk Francis Harden Hollis.
SUPP president Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam who was defeated by DAP candidate Ling Sie Kiong for the Piasau seat in the April state election, had indicated that he would step down at the coming TDC.
SUPP, one of the four Barisan Nasional component parties in Sarawak, fared badly in the last state election where it lost in 13 of the 19 seats it contested, leading to calls for a new leadership to steer the party.