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Taib’s man warns Chinese: Think hard

 | May 4, 2012

The Chinese community in Sarawak risks losing government representation if they don't deliver Sibu back to Barisan Nasional, says PBB Youth chief.

SIBU: An emissary of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud has warned the Chinese community to “think hard” if they want to be represented in the state cabinet.

Fadillah Yusuf, who is Taib’s Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) Youth chief, said the community must think long and hard before casting their votes in the coming general election.

It appears that the Sibu and Lanang parliamentary constituencies will determine whether or not the Chinese community is represented in Taib’s state cabinet.

Fadillah, who is Taib’s Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) Youth chief was, however, not concerned about BN’s future.

“I believe that BN will still form the government whether or not the Chinese give us their support.

“But it will be a loss to the Chinese community if Sibu is lost again because they will have no representative in the government,” said Fadillah, who is also Science, Technology and Innovation Deputy Minister.

Stressing the importance of winning back Sibu, Fadillah said the Chinese must understand the  risk their  community would face should the opposition retain Sibu and gain a foothold in Lanang.

Sibu and Lanang are two of 10 parliamentary seats allocated to SUPP. PBB has 14 seats while Parti Rakyat Sarawak and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party have six and four respectively.

In total, Sarawak has 31 parliamentary seats, which Prime Minister Najib Tub Razak desperately needs in view of the political uncertainties in Peninsular Malaysia.

In the 2008 general election, SUPP won six seats – Serian, Sarikei, Miri, Sibu, Lanang and Stampin. It lost Bandar Kuching to opposition DAP.

But in a by-election in May 2010, SUPP lost its hold on Sibu. That the loss was shattering would be an understatement. Sibu’s fall in 2010 was seen as an omen of what was to come.

In the April 2011 state election, SUPP was almost wiped out except in six seats – Bengor, Opar, Simanggang, Engkilili and Senadin.

Najib’s hand

Almost all of its senior leaders, including party president George Chan, were defeated. Following the loss, Chan stepped down accepting blame for the party’s poor perfromance and called on other senior members to do likewise.

But this did not go down well and further aggravated the now deeply wounded and divided party. Chan’s chosen heir was Wong Soon Koh (Bawang Assan assemblyman), who was then the party’s deputy secretary-general. Wong would ensure some form of continuity.

But a last-minute entry by SUPP senior member and federal minister Peter Chin shook the cart. According to Chin, he had Najib’s blessing to contest the SUPP presidency.

But word here has it that Najib is using every avenue possible to muscle into Sarawak politics and rein in Taib. Wong is Taib’s man and is currently a senior minister in the state cabinet.

In the run-up to the triennial delegates conference (TDC) and presidential elections in December 2011, Wong alleged election irregularities at branch level polls and reported the party to the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

Wong had the backing of Lanang MP Tiong Thai King and five assemblymen – Jerip Susil (Bengor), Ranum Mina (Opar), Francis Harden (Simanggang), Johnichal Rayong (Engkilili) and Lee Kim Shin (Senadin).

All the representatives boycotted the TDC claiming it was illegal, pending a ROS decision, and as such were disqualified from contesting in the presidential polls.

Chin was elected president and in his subsequent speech offered seats on his presidential team. But none have taken up the offer.

MCA-SUPP tie-up

Strife within the party and from outside means Sibu and Lanang parliamentary seats are in trouble despite Wong’s much touted confidence.

Tiong, who comes from a wealthy background, has been Lanang MP since 1995. But there is much anger against his family, helmed by brother Tiong Hiew King, who incidentally is listed by America’s Forbes Magazine as among its top billionaires.

In Sarawak, Hiew King heads Rimbunan Hijau, a company closely aligned to Taib. The company controls a media empire, owns vast tracts of oil palm plantations and has been the recipient of tens of millions of ringgit worth of timber concessions which has allegedly resulted in hundreds of NCR lands being stripped and natives dispossesed.

Both Sibu and Lanang are SUPP’s flagship seats. Having lost Sibu, SUPP cannot now lose Lanang. This doesn’t mean that the party is fight-free in Serian, Sarikei, Miri and Stampin.

The writing on the wall is that SUPP will fall in many of these seats under attack from the Pakatan Rakyat coalition. Perhaps this is itself now the reason behind a unprecedented tie-up between SUPP and peninsular based.

It was widely reported that MCA’s president Dr Chua Soi Lek and Chin had met up in Kuching on Thursday and discussed possible ways to ‘collaborate’ in the run up to the general elections.

MCA has vast experience countering DAP which is its main nemesis in Peninsular Malaysia. And going into a “death-defying” polls, SUPP could do with help in tackling wily DAP.


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