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Need for more Chinese community leaders

 | September 21, 2012

Aiming to arrest rapidly dwindling Chinese support for Barisan Nasional in Sarawak, a local leader has called for a study.

KUCHING: A Chinese leader here has called for a study to determine the needs and challenges of an “increasing” Chinese population in Sarawak.

A core component of the study would be to determine how many more Chinese leaders the community needed in the state.

Freshly minted community leader Temengong Lu Kim Yong said based on feedback gathered thus far there seemed to be a need to increase the number of Chinese community leaders, mainly due to the mushrooming of new residential areas.

He said currently there were some 70 to 80 Chinese community leaders in Kuching alone and it simply was not enough.

“We need to conduct a thorough study first (of the community’s needs). That is why it is vital for me to get feedback from community leaders of the respective areas.

“Once this is done a proposal would be submitted to the ministry concerned,” he said.

Lu’s view that the community’s population is rising contradicts the latest statistics from the Sarawak Statistics Bulletin 2012.

According to the report the Chinese population in Sarawak had declined from 590,300 in 2005 to 577,646 in 2010 – a drop of 2.2 per cent.

The Chinese community is currently 24% of Sarawak’s population, making them the second largest grouping aside from the Iban. The Ibans are still the single largest ethnic group with a population of 713,421 in 2010 — an increase of 6.4 per cent from 670,400 in 2005.

Lu’s concern can probably be traced back to the Chinese community having held back their support for Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) – a Barisan Nasional coalition member – in last April’s state election.

Chinese dominated SUPP was literally wiped out when almost all their Chinese leaders, including party president George Chan, lost their seats to DAP.

SUPP’s saving grace was their four Dayak MPs and two Chinese leaders – Wong Soon Koh (Bawang Assan) and Lee Kim Shim (Senadin). Lee barely won his seat by 58 vote majority against PKR.

Not much has changed since then. SUPP is still mired in internal strive and is not expected to survive the 13th general election. At stake is the seven seats allocated to the party.

‘Be wary of DAP’

Bandar Kuching, where Lu is a community leader, is one of them. This seat is currently held by Sarawak DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen, a two-term MP.

The other Chinese majority seat is Bandar Sibu, which SUPP also lost to DAP in a by-election in May 2010.

Meanwhile Sibu SUPP chairman Wong Soon Koh claimed DAP was using psychological warfare to garner votes in the coming general election.

“They daringly do it because they know they will not be able to take control of Sarawak and change the government.

“They have been shouting about making changes but the only change I foresee is that the Chinese community will lose all representations in the government when DAP wins and they will be standing with them on the outside and shouting,” said Wong during a mooncake gathering of SUPP Queensway Service Centre members recently.

Wong said DAP’s main aim was to destroy the morale of SUPP and defame BN.

“SUPP admits the BN government is not without its problem. It is not perfect, but the government has been working hard. Prime Minister Najib (Tun Razak) has not neglected the needs of the Chinese community and has taken to heart the matters affecting the people,” he said.

Urging the Chinese to vote wisely, Wong added: We have lost three quarters of the political strength to DAP in the state election.

“I am now the only one left to look after the Chinese community. My strength is limited in the government representation.

“I need partners to team up with me.”


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