What is the future of the United People’s Party (UPP)? Is it still relevant given the changing political landscape?
For starters, many are confused by the contradicting stand of its leaders. On May 16, the party issued a statement declaring its support for the prime minister, Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
At the same time, it maintained its Barisan Nasional (BN)-friendly stance, pledging its support for Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg.
From BN-friendly to PH-friendly, what kind of a stand is this? Sounds like a party without a backbone to me. Either you are with BN or you are with PH. You cannot be both.
Such a contradicting stand does not help the party’s public image. Claiming to be an independent entity sounds like taking the easy route out. A party that wants the best of both worlds is unlikely to attract public support.
After its disastrous outing in GE14, many in Sarawak have started to write UPP off. Why, even SUPP is heading nowhere, let alone its offshoot party. SUPP is Sarawak’s oldest political party, established in 1959, while UPP was set up just four years ago.
UPP president Wong Soon Koh is ready to retire come the next state election, due in 2021. His son, Andrew Wong, joined SUPP but failed to get elected in the May 9 polls.
UPP deputy president Jerip Susil is only a junior assistant minister with no real clout and barely any support in the Chinese-based party.
The number of state assemblymen in the party is also unclear. Some candidates who won during the 2016 state polls were fielded as BN-friendly candidates by the late chief minister Adenan Satem.
Even in GE14, no one was sure who the UPP-aligned candidates were as they were all required to contest on the BN/SUPP ticket.
Many elected representatives are also known opportunists, ever ready to leave for greener pastures when the chips are down. Party loyalty is suspect in almost all parties, and UPP is no exception.
It must also be noted that UPP was not born with strong convictions, policies or ideologies. It emerged following an intense leadership tussle in SUPP.
Four years later, the party is still unable to attract much support, with many of its leaders faring badly in their electoral outings.
The writing is quite clear on the wall for UPP.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.