KUCHING: Fresh from a rebranding that includes a new name and a new logo, Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) now plans to expand to Selangor, Negri Sembilan and the Klang Valley to add to the six divisions already established in Johor.
Its president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said such move was to consolidate Barisan Nasional (BN) in the peninsula by accommodating Sarawak BN voters now working and living there. He stressed this had nothing to do with paving the way for Barisan Nasional (BN) counterparts from the peninsula such as Umno to cross over to Sarawak.
“We are just accommodating the Sarawakians now living and working in the peninsula. This has nothing to do with peninsula-based BN parties coming over here. That’s different,” he told reporters after the launch of the new name and logo at a hotel here on Sunday night.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, who represented Chief Minister and Sarawak BN chairman Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, officiated at the ceremony.
PDP’s name and logo was approved by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) on Feb 3 this year, in a move said to be a new historical chapter for this multiracial party formed in 2002 with current total membership of over 97,000.
Meanwhile, Uggah also told reporters there was no issue of peninsula-based BN parties coming to Sarawak.
“There are now many Sarawakians in the peninsula. In Johor, I was told there are over 40,000 Sarawakians working there, but many of them could not come back to vote during elections.
“By becoming PDP members and register as voters there, this will give added strength to BN,” said Uggah, also Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) acting deputy president.
Earlier in his speech, Tiong, who is also Bintulu MP, said PDP had identified the areas for expansion in the peninsula, which includes setting up three divisions in Selangor, two divisions in Negri Sembilan and several divisions in the Klang Valley.
He revealed that so far, PDP already had six party divisions in Johor – in the state constituencies of Tiram, Johor Jaya, Permas, Skudai, Nusajaya and Senai – with total membership of 6,000, out of whom 3,000 are registered voters.
“Moving forward, we will expand our network to Selangor, Negri Sembilan and the Klang Valley. Our presence there is merely to ensure BN wins in the seats (where we have our party divisions) through votes from Sarawak registered voters who domicile there,” he said.
Tiong also said the exclusion of the word ‘Sarawak’ from PDP did not mean the party does not love or is not loyal to its homeland, stressing the party’s struggle is for Sarawak.
He explained the new name was chosen in line with the party’s aim to ensure more Sarawakians domiciled outside the state, could contribute to and bolster the party’s continuity in the states in the peninsula.
“As the party president, I want to put on record my undivided support to the government led by the Chief Minister. We regard the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Ministers as good leaders who practise power sharing, fair treatment and profess politics of compromise and consensus.
“I hope the Deputy Chief Minister (Uggah) will extend our message to the Chief Minister that ‘no matter whether you are up or down, in happiness or sadness, in good time or bad time’, PDP members and I will stand solidly behind the Chief Minister to ensure he can lead Sarawak effectively. This is our promise to you sir and to your leadership,” he said.
The Chief Minister in his speech read by Uggah congratulated PDP for its new name and logo and said PDP had always remained loyal to BN despite changes made to the logo and name.
Abang Johari hoped the concept of power sharing, consultation, mutual respect and co-operation would continue to be adhered to in the big family of BN.
Also present that night were Sarawak United People’s Party president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, PBB Women deputy chief Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) vice president Datuk Liwan Lagang, Upko secretary general Datuk Donald Peter Mojuntin and BN executive secretary Datuk Seri Abu Khamis.