WELL it seems like the Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) is trying to get back to its roots of being a multiracial party by recruiting more Bumiputera members.
In case you didn’t know, among the party’s founding members are names such as: Abang Dris bin Sanaun, Penghulu Blaja, Permancha Salau, Francis M. Umpi Rantai, Permancha Durin, Wan Mohdzar bin Tuanku Mahmud, William Hardin, Vincent Gerrard Bandong, Jonathan Bangau ak Renang, and Charles Linang.
Yes, the party began with quite a mix of Sarawakians of all races. Very 1Sarawak even back then in 1959 — that’s probably because we have always been one in Sarawak unlike our brethren in Malaya.
Somehow along the way though, the party began to have more and more Chinese members and almost forgot its multicultural origins. Almost.
Just as well it didn’t completely forget because it was the party’s Bumiputera members that saved it from being almost completely wiped out during the last State election.
Other than Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh (Bawang Assan) and Datuk Lee Kim Shin (Senadin), the other SUPP members to win their seats were all Bumiputeras: Datuk Francis Harden Hollis (Simanggang), Dr Jerip Susil (Bengoh), Ranum Mina (Opar) and Dr Johnical Rayong (Engkilili).
Currently around 70 per cent of the party’s members are Chinese.
So the announcement that SUPP Deputy President Datuk Richard Riot Jaem has been tasked with recruiting more Bumiputera members is indeed timely.
Riot will apparently set up his own team to penetrate Bumiputera areas with the view of setting up more branches throughout the state.
Hopefully this will be what the party needs to revitalise itself and once again play a prominent role in the future of Sarawak.
Mission to recruit Bumi members
by Peter Sibon
KUCHING: Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) deputy president Datuk Richard Riot Jaem has been tasked to recruit more Bumiputeras for the party.
Currently SUPP, a Chinese-based party has about 30 per cent Bumiputera members, mostly Ibans and Bidayuhs.
SUPP president Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui said Riot would have to set up his own team to penetrate Bumiputera areas with the view of setting up more branches throughout the state.
Commenting on his appointment as chairman of the Bumiputera Committee, Riot said he had identified five party members to help him achieve his objective.
“Though I have not informed them as I was just appointed to head the committee, I do have in mind all the four elected state assemblymen who have not been part of the team,” Riot told the media after the Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting at SUPP headquarters here yesterday.
Four of the assemblymen who are currently not with the CWC as they have boycotted the last TGM are Datuk Francis Harden, Dr Jerip Susil, Ranum Mina and Dr Johnical Rayong.
“The whole idea is to get everyone back to the party,” added Riot.
On the amended constitution which made Riot only third in command in the CWC hierarchy after the president and the secretary-general, Riot said he had no qualms about it and would take it in his stride, and insisted that his appointment was “historical for the Dayak community as this was the first time a non-Chinese was elected to the post.”
“As it has been amended by the central committee, I think I should be happy. The fact that I have been made a deputy president is history in the making as I am the first non-Chinese to be deputy president of SUPP,” he added.
Before this, Riot was reported have expressed his unhappiness with the amendment to the constitution, and was even willing to quit the party as many quarters saw his appointment as mere window dressing.
Meanwhile, Riot who is a five-term Serian MP and Deputy Foreign Minister said he was ready to defend his seat and has even activated his operation centre in his village, Kpg Piching.
Both PKR and DAP are reportedly keen to contest in this Bidayuh-majority seat.
In the 2008 12th general election, Riot defeated SNAP candidate Sylvester Belayong by a 13,427 vote majority in a straight fight.