Thursday, September 28

SUPP still stuck at square one


Wong says reconciliation no longer possible, but Dr Sim says it is critical for the party

Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh

Prof Dr Sim Kui Hian

Datuk Dr Jerip Susil

Datuk Richard Riot Jaem

KUCHING: Is reconciliation, as instructed by the top Barisan Nasional (BN) leadership, the solution to end the bitter internal squabbles in SUPP?

SUPP Sibu chairman Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, who heads one faction, said it was no longer a practical option, but the party’s secretary-general Professor Dr Sim Kui Hian, from the other camp, said reconciling was “part and parcel of politics” and it should be pursued.

Wong, who is also Second Finance Minister, told The Borneo Post yesterday that as much as his faction wanted to adhere to the BN top leadership instructions to reconcile, they had given up on the idea.

He said his faction, which comprises six assemblymen including him, had tried their best to patch up, but all initiatives failed as there was no sincerity from the faction headed by party president Tan Sri Peter Chin.

Wong, who is also Bawang Assan assemblyman and Minister of Local Government and Community Development, said he had in fact spoken to Chin on two occasions, during which they had more or less compromised to end the impasse, but claimed Chin messed it up in the end.

“After the (two) discussions, Chin, when presiding a CWC (central working committee) meeting, made known to the world that show-cause letters have been issued to two members from our group even though the prime minister had made it very clear that there should not be any sacking of party members.

“The CWC also threatened to take disciplinary actions against five others in our group. This does not augur well with our intention to reconcile because you cannot extend an olive branch in one hand and a sword in the other.”

Wong said this when asked to comment on Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s call on Tuesday to SUPP, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and MCA to be resolved their internal squabbles amicably soon in the interest of preserving harmony in BN.

Others in Wong’s camp are assemblymen Datuk Lee Kim Shin (Senadin), Datuk Dr Jerip Susil (Bengoh), Datuk Francis Harden Hollis (Simanggang), Ranum Mina (Opar) and Dr Johnical Rayong (Engkilili).

Wong reiterated that his faction was now waiting for the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to make its decision on the party.

ROS had recently served show-cause letters on two SUPP branches, demanding explanations on alleged irregularities in the run-up to the party’s triennial delegates’ conference (TDC), which was held in Kuching in December 2011.

Wong said as the ROS had not made its decision, Chin’s faction could only dabble with day-to-hold party matters as it did not have the power to sack or take action against party member.

Dr Jerip, when contacted, agreed that reconciliation is the best solution to any dispute, but not in SUPP’s case.

“From the very beginning, we sought reconciliation, but it never happened because there is just no sincerity from the other side. They (Chin’s faction) claimed they wanted to reconcile, but their actions always tell otherwise.”

Dr Jerip, who is also Assistant Public Health Minister and SUPP Bengoh chief, said due to the seriousness of the irregularities committed by some branches before the TDC, there was nothing else his faction could do to save the party, but to be prepared for any eventuality.

“Our group fully agreed and subscribed to reconciliation but we simply cannot clap with one hand. As such, we really hope the ROS can make its decision soon so that we can chart our next cause of action.”

Meanwhile, Dr Sim, said as reconciliation was part and parcel of politics, it was critical for the party to do so. The party should also accelerate the passing of baton to the younger generation.

“Politic is the art of making the impossible possible, but it needs big bold radical change, not twitting,” said Dr Sim.

SUPP deputy president Datuk Richard Riot Jaem, who is also Human Resources Minister, when asked for his commented, merely said SUPP is not the only party in hot soup. All other Chinese-majority parties in the BN, namely MCA, LDP and Gerakan, are in the same boat too, he SMSed.

SUPP, Sarawak’s oldest political party, split into two in the run-up to the TDC, which, among others, was to pick a successor to then party president cum Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr Chan Hong Nam. Dr Chan had lost the Piasau state seat in the April 2011 state election.

Some members had insisted that Chin be the new party chief even though it was earlier agreed that Wong, who was then deputy secretary-general, succeed Dr Chan.

Disqualification of some branch delegates from attending the TDC soon mounted, and accusations from both sides soon became the order of the day.

Subsequently, several branches boycotted the TDC as they felt it had not been conducted in a fair manner and had breached the party’s constitutions.