SUPP grappling with infighting

By Free Malaysia Today

KUCHING: Infighting within the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) is crippling its bid to wrest back the Padungan and Meradong state seats, among others, from the opposition.

Both seats are held by Domique Ng from PKR and Ting Tze Hui from DAP respectively. Ng is the incumbent for Padungan while Ting holds Meradong.

According to sources, the infighting has become so bad that the leadership has until today been unable to name its candidates for the two constituency. This is in addition to the problematic Dudong seat.

For the Padungan seat, members of the SUPP Kuching branch have nominated its leader Lily Yong as candidate, but the party’s top leadership has turned down the recommendation fearing a possible sabotage from another group within, said a veteran leader.

He said this group was certain to take revenge on Yong as they did in the 2006 polls. Yong had allegedly campaigned against the group’s leader, Wee Hong Seng, in the 2004 parliamentary election.

“That being the case, Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, who is the chairman of the State Barisan Nasional, wants to put his own ‘man’, the (current) Kuching Mayor James Chan, to be the candidate. Here again, there are strong protests from SUPP members,” said the leader who wished to remain anonymous.

Meanwhile, SUPP president George Chan has confessed that the party is facing ‘some difficulty’ in naming its candidate who could be able to wrest the seats from the opposition.

“We have a few potential and right candidates, but not all of them show any interest in contesting.

“Whatever it is, we will eventually have a suitable candidate and with the right person, there is a chance for us to reclaim the Padungan seat,” Chan said, adding that despite this handicap, he was confident to be able to name the best candidate for the seat in the hope of recovering the lost ground.

As for Meradong, which is represented by Ting, who incidentally was expelled from the State Legislative Assembly last month, SUPP has a bigger headache as the branch is virtually non-existent.

Again, the branch’s status is due to infighting in the branch. Here every leader wants to be a candidate so Chan has a difficult task to select a candidate, said the leader.

Reviewing more seats

Then there is the Dudong seat which is held by SUPP’s Soon Choon Teck.

But come the next state election, the party might replace Soon, who is at the centre of a four-year- old battle within the party.

Soon wants to set up a Dudong branch which the Sibu branch chairman Wong Soon Koh is strongly opposed to.