Thursday, October 21

Threats claim ‘sympathy vote fishing’: Paul

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Challenger eyeing SPDP’s No. 2 post asked   not to misinterpret advice, negative comments

KUCHING: A close aide to Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party’s (SPDP) leadership, Paul Igai, said he could not accept the statement by Youth deputy chief Phillip Ngo that members had threatened him via SMSes and phone calls.When contacted yesterday, Paul said Phillip’s public statement was not only a sweeping one but uncalled for.

Paul said he believed Phillip was just fishing for sympathy votes from delegates coming to SPDP Triennial General Assembly (TGA) on Dec 28-30.

Paul claimed Phillip, who will be challenging incumbent deputy president Datuk Peter Nyarok Entrie, was “trying to be some kind of a hero” by making allegations that members were threatening him.

Paul, sounding infuriated on the phone, dared Phillip, a businessman who hails from Long Atip in Baram, to lodge a police report “otherwise he would be merely tarnishing the party’s image by giving the impression that SPDP members were acting like gangsters.

“If Phillip still insists that members are threatening him, he should lodge a police report otherwise he is tarnishing the image of the party,” Paul said.

“We (SPDP) are a democratic party. We are truly multi-racial. We do not resort to dirty tactics like how Phillip described in the news.

What had happened to him most probably, he received some negative comments,” he said. In recent days Phillip has indicated through a series of press statements and interviews that he will be contesting against Nyarok, Assistant Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture and Krian assemblyman, despite leadership and grassroots calls that he should not.

“It is normal for members to advise or counsel him when he is going for the top post like the deputy president irrespective of his ideals or what he thinks of such a move. Of course there will be members who will try to persuade him (Phillip) to withdraw. But that does not mean that they are threatening him,” said Paul.

Paul said Phillip should consider contesting for a supreme council post against him instead of against the deputy president.

He said Phillip’s proclamation of his past positions in the party and the things that he had done for SPDP were not sufficient ground for him to want to contest the deputy president post.

“If Phillip must list down his past positions and doings, then look at me. I was a former permanent chairman, former deputy secretary and a two-term supreme council member as well as current political secretary to the Chief Minister.

“Our party is barely seven years old and we don’t need a drastic transformation. Dec 28-30 is just our second TGA,” said Paul, insisting that Phillip’s best move would still be to withdraw.

“However, he now seems to be going through a desperate effort to challenge the leadership of the president which is reflected in the presidential line-up agreed to by the Supreme Council in its Nov 7 meeting,” Paul said.

“Even the senior vice presidents, vice presidents, secretary general and treasurer-general do not aspire to contest the deputy president post. This is ample reason for Phillip to withdraw,” Paul said.

Apart from Paul, 13 divisions (which mean more than 50 branches) have come out in the open to request Phillip to withdraw from contesting against Nyarok.

The 13 divisions – nine led by SPDP supreme council member James Laju Ambok and another four from Serian – wanted Ngo to withdraw so as not to challenge party president Dato Sri William Mawan Ikom’s directive for a status quo “to maintain the party’s power equilibrium”.

In a special interview with Utusan Borneo on Saturday, Phillip claimed to have received threats demanding that he withdraw his candidacy.

But despite these threats, the 45-year-old said he would fight on and prove his detractors wrong.

“I will not withdraw just because I received threats. I am committed, focused and staying put with my stand regarding the action I am taking. Maybe there are a few people who don’t understand but I believe that when the time comes, they will know what I am trying to do from the democratic aspect,” Phillip said.

He, however, refused to reveal the identity of the persons who sent the threats, which, he claimed, were made through phone calls and SMSes.

He said he did not want to deliberate in length on the contents of the threats even though he did not dismiss the possibility of reporting the matter to the police if the situation should go from bad to worse.

He added that his handphone had failed to work properly from all the SMSes he had been receiving since his decision to contest against Nyarok was made known to the public.

When asked on his chances of winning, Phillip said he would be leaving it to the delegates to make a choice. He pointed out that if they understand his struggle, they will vote for him.

SPDP TGA will be held for three days starting with the Women and Youth wings   at Grand Continental Hotel here today (Dec 28).

The launching of the TGA for the main body and election will be held at the Kuching Civic Centre tomorrow (Dec 29).

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will be officiating at the opening ceremony tomorrow.