UPP seeks clarification

Wong (seated fifth left) and Lo (seated fourth left) with UPP members during a photo call after its Central Working Committee meeting in Kuching yesterday.

KUCHING: Barisan Nasional (BN)-friendly United People’s Party (UPP) said it needs to seek further clarification from Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg on what he meant by not employing the BN direct candidacy formula in the next parliamentary election.

When met by reporters after the party’s Central Working Committee meeting here yesterday, UPP secretary-general George Lo said after reading an online report of what Abang Johari had said, he did not get a chance to seek the clarification from the state BN chairman over his comment to the press at an official function earlier on.

Lo said his view was such that: “If UPP candidates are to contest as Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) candidates in the next parliamentary election, then it should be after the exercise of getting these two parties fully united is finally completed.”

“We have started an exercise to unite the two parties, but it will take some time. The first step of getting the two parties together is the signing of an MoU,” he said.

When met after declaring open the Muara Sungai Kudei Bridge at Kampung Kudei here yesterday, Abang Johari said there would be no fielding of BN direct candidates in the 14th general election (GE14).

Though acknowledging that the BN direct candidacy formula had proven effective in the last state election, Abang Johari said this was because the upcoming election involved all states in Malaysia and not just Sarawak alone.

“This is a parliamentary election and all (contesting) candidates are from each component party, unlike the state election. In Peninsular Malaysia, they also don’t have any BN direct candidates,” he told reporters.

He declined to comment if he had finalised his list of candidates but said for the moment there would be no BN direct candidate even for Saratok.

The direct formula adopted by former chief minister, the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem in the 2016 state election saw BN direct candidates winning 11 out of the 13 seats contested.

In January this year, Saratok MP Tan Sri William Ikom said he already joined a BN component party but left people to speculate on which of the four state BN components; namely SUPP, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) or Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) he might have joined. Mawan then said he would announce it in due course and at an appropriate time.

In the 13th general election, Mawan, then contesting as a Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) candidate, secured a win for BN when he defeated Ali Biju of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Independent candidate Datuk Abang Rosli Abang Paleng with a majority of 2,081 votes.

On Saturday, UPP Youth chief Dr Johnichal Rayong Ngipa said UPP and SUPP would be signing the MoU sometime soon but not yesterday – the initial date.

Rayong, who is Engkilili assemblyman, said he could not deliberate on the MoU, and only replied that it was for the Chief Minister to announce later on.

He, however, said presidents of both parties Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian (SUPP) and Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh (UPP) will be the signatories with Abang Johari and other Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders as witnesses.

The MoU is a positive development and good for BN, he said, adding that UPP will give full support to SUPP candidates in the GE14.

In 2014, a leadership crisis had led Wong, the Bawang Assan assemblyman, Rayong and two other state assemblymen Datuk Dr Jerip Susil and Datuk Ranum Mina to leave SUPP to form UPP.

At the SUPP triennial delegates conference in December last year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak called on Abang Johari, who is the current state BN chairman, to resolve the four-year-long dispute between SUPP and UPP. Dr Sim, too, had on numerous occasions invited those who had left the party to return.

Wong had also pointed out that UPP was ready to work together with SUPP, believing in the political wisdom of the current state BN chairman Abang Johari.

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