The question has been put to Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) following the state BN government’s support for the newly-formed United People’s Party (UPP), which is made up of former SUPP members.
The presence of State Minister for Housing and Minister for Tourism, Abang Johari Abang Openg, at UPP’s inaugural triennial delegates conference (TDC) in Kuching yesterday is seen as a clear and strong indication of the state government’s support for UPP.
The presence of Abang Johari (right) was seen as even more significant becase he was announced as the official representative of Chief Minister Adenan Satem at the UPP function.
UPP was formed late year, after it broke away from SUPP following a protracted leadership crisis.
The current members of the state BN are Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and SUPP.
Even though UPP is not a member of the state BN, two of its members are in the state cabinet - Local Government Minister Wong Soon Koh and an assistant minister, Jerip Susil.
UPP is seen as important to Adenan and the state BN because it has four assemblypersons – representing the state seats of Bawang Assan, Opar, Bengoh and Engkilili.
SUPP will strongly oppose UPP
SUPP has made it clear several times that it will strongly oppose any move to admit UPP into the state BN and that it would not give up any of its 19 seats to the UPP.
Asked about the significance of Abang Johari’s presence at the UPP meeting, Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen told reporters that it was more appropriate for SUPP to answer that question.
“However, from our point of view, it just confirms the speculation by various analysts that UPP will be accepted as one of the component members of the state BN.
“And there is nothing SUPP can do about it,” said Chong (left), who is also the MP for Bandar Kuching and the assemblyperson for Kota Sentosa.
He said SUPP has been shouting all this while that it will not give up even one of its seats to UPP.
“What is SUPP’s stand now? What is SUPP going to do – quit BN or just keep its mouth shut and wag the tail?” asked Chong.
Asked whether the problems of UPP and SUPP would give DAP any advantage, he said the next state election would be, as usual, very difficult as the party was not only fighting its opponents, but also fighting against the Election Commission, which acts as an umpire.
“Our battle is always very difficult, very tough whether it is in the urban or in the rural constituencies. This is because the State BN is using the government machinery and the taxpayers’ money, as well as the Election Commission, to fight us.,” Chong added.
“In a soccer game, we are not only playing against our opponents, but also against the umpire, and in the case of the general election, we are also playing against the EC, which behaves as the 14th BN component party.”
He said that although DAP won 12 state seats in the last state election, and six parliamentary seats in the GE13, these always were hard-fought victories.
UPP during the weekend formally elected Wong Soon Koh (left) as its president, with Jerip Susil as the deputy.
Lawyer George Lo is the secretary-general, with timber tycoon Tiong Thai King and Opar assemblyperson Ranum Mina as the party’s senior vice-presidents.
More than 1,000 members from across the state attended the UPP delegates meeting.
Wong said that the party has set up 24 branches with a total membership of more than 20,000 and that more branches would be set up in the near future.