Presidential race heating up


UNITY IS STRENGTH: Wong (centre front row) leads other party members to shout SUPP’s slogan of Sa’ati.

Wong Soon Koh: The fate of the party now lies in the good hands of the delegates.

Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh

KUCHING: Some 1,200 leaders  and members from 39 of SUPP’s  43 branches throughout the state  attended the launching of The  New Plan which was put together  by presidential aspirant Dato Sri  Wong Soon Koh and his team here  yesterday.

In terms of branches, the  turnout yesterday overshadowed  the one on Oct 16 when organising  secretary Datuk Seri Peter Chin  announced that he was eyeing the  presidency.

The turnout then was  from 36 branches.  The New Plan, which is designed  to address the various weaknesses  besieging the party and to build  on its strengths, was unveiled  at SUPP headquarters here by  Wong.

Among those present were  Lanang MP Datuk Tiong Thai  King, Simanggang assemblyman  Datuk Francis Hardin, Datuk Lee  Kim Shin (Senadin), Dr Jerip Susil  (Bengoh), Ranum Mina (Opar) and  Dr Johnical Rayong (Engkilili).

Wong admitted to those present  that it was not easy to rebuild a  party that is on the brink of  collapse, but if all members focus  their hearts on a common cause,  there was no reason the party  could not be rejuvenated and  become a force to be reckoned with  once more.

He said it was therefore important  for members, especially delegates  to the fast approaching triennial  delegates’ conference (TDC), to use  their wisdom to choose who they  wanted to lead the party.

“The fate of the party now lies  in the good hands of the delegates  because they are the ones to decide  the future of the party.”

The TDC, which is slated to  be held here from Dec 9 to 11, is  expected to see a straight fight  between Wong, who is the party’s  deputy secretary-general, and  Chin for the presidency.

Party president and former Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan is calling it a day following his defeat in Piasau during the April 16 state polls.

Wong said his team would ensure that their plan will be implemented if they were given the mandate to lead the party.

He lamented that the party had faced devastating defeats in the 2006 and 2011 state elections to such an extent that some quarters had questioned its relevancy.

In fact, when it lost 13 of the 19 seats it contested in the recent 10th state election, some party leaders even opined that the two elected representatives from the Chinese community (Wong and Lee) should be excluded from the State Cabinet.

Things got so bad that there were even threats to drag Dr Chan to the High Court for failing to convene a Central Committee meeting.

“After all these fiasco, the party came to a standstill. In September, the six of us (state assemblymen) felt that we need to do something to revive the party. We then briefed the president about our plan, and he asked us to go ahead while Datuk Seri Peter Chin, at that time, announced that he would be stepping down.

“That was why we had gone to the ground to seek opinions and feedback from the grassroots until all of a sudden Datuk Seri Peter Chin declared that he is going for the president’s post.”

Wong told the huge crowd that he was touched by the overwhelming turnout, adding that their presence clearly showed their love for the party.