Race hots up for GPS ticket to contest Lanang


Raymond Tiong

SIBU (Oct 19): Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Bukit Assek treasurer Raymond Tiong Eng Lee’s schedule has been packed these days.

Besides routinely meeting his business clients, the 53-year-old has been busy hitting the ground to meet with people seeking to understand their needs in order to improve their life.

He is also busy attending meetings, events and drawing up plans to provide aid to those looking for assistance.

All these are aimed at making his presence felt in the community and it has fueled talk that the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) councillor is a potential SUPP candidate for Lanang.

Tiong, however, remains coy as to whether he will be the one who gets the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) ticket to contest in the coming 15th general election.

“I am leaving it to the leadership of GPS to decide if I will contest in Lanang.”

Tiong, who is SMC Building and Town Beautification and Tender Opening standing committee chairman, is a popular figure not only among business associates but also with sports personalities.

Being a SUPP member for the past 13 years and with good character and a clean track record, all these should be an advantage for Tiong as to why he should be picked as the candidate for Lanang.

In April, SUPP Bukit Assek branch chairman Datuk Chieng Buong Toon had said Tiong’s name had already been submitted to the party’s Central Working Committee for consideration.

Tiong pledged to work hard to wrest back the Lanang seat for SUPP if given the chance.

“The political road ahead is bumpy and full of punctuations but I am confident of wresting back the seat for GPS and SUPP,” he said.

Tiong said if he wins a seat in Parliament, he will fight hard to get back Sarawak rights as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and also the one-third of parliamentary seats of 35 percent for Sarawak and Sabah.

“Sarawakians now are becoming more aware of MA63 and this issue can become a selling point for GPS to win more seats this time,” he said.

Additionally, Tiong said he would also campaign on the unfair policies that have been plaguing Sarawak in the past decades, notably the revenue from the oil and gas industry which Sarawak was deprived of due to the Petroleum Development Act 1974.

“Then there is the stamp duty on property transactions which was illogical as the lands belonged to Sarawak but the stamp duty had to be paid to the federal government.”

Tiong admitted that the fight for Lanang will be tough.

He explained that SUPP was beaten in Bukit Assek, one of the two state constituencies under Lanang, in the 2018 general election. The other state seat is Dudong.

“Even the majority votes won by SUPP in Dudong constituency were not enough to cover the losses suffered in the Bukit Assek constituency,” he said.

In the meantime, Tiong could be facing stiff resistance from SUPP Dudong branch chairman Wong Ching Yong as candidate for the Lanang seat.

Wong Ching Yong

The 63-year old chartered accountant is a veteran politician and possibly the frontrunner for the GPS ticket.

When contacted, Wong said he is leaving it to the coalition’s top leadership to decide on his candidacy.

The Sibu Rural District Council (SRDC) deputy chairman said it would be his maiden fight if he gets the green light to contest in the coming election.

“I am not being optimistic but if given the chance, I will surely go all out to wrest back the seat for SUPP.”

Touching on voter trend, Wong said it was hard to predict the hearts and minds of the voters though on paper, it might look to be an easy win for GPS.

“We are talking about the parliamentary election and unlike the state election, the issues and topics are totally different.

“Moreover, the voters in the urban and rural seats are different and hence it’s always more difficult to win in urban seats for the ruling party,” said Wong.

DAP’s Alice Lau is expected to defend Lanang for a third term.

In the 2018 general election, she retained the seat with 29,905 votes to beat SUPP candidate Kelvin Kong by a majority of 14,546 votes.