By Chew Lip Song
THE Progressive Democratic Party’s (PDP) decision to unveil its candidate for the Bawang Assan state seat in the coming state election has riled up the Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), its ally in the Gabungan Parti Sarawak.
SUPP’s Senator Robert Lau said the decision by PDP president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing to name the party’s candidate was not in the spirit of GPS. The component parties in the coalition, he added, do not make public claims on seats, especially those traditionally contested by other parties.
“In this case, SUPP (Sarawak United Peoples’ Party) has always been the party that represents this constituency,” he said in a Dayak Daily report.
Lau noted that Tiong’s move was in response to the challenge by Bawang Assan assemblyman Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, who is also the president of the opposition party Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) to contest in the seat in the coming state election.
“The spat and bad blood between the two veteran Chinese politicians of Sarawak, and also presidents of their respective parties, have overshadowed the need for real leadership for the area and people of Bawang Assan,” he added.
Lau, who is SUPP Bawang Assan branch chairman, emphasised that election should not be used as a contest of might or to settle personal disputes, but rather as a force of good to choose the right leader that will benefit the people.
“The leadership and members of SUPP Bawang Assan branch have been active on the grounds consistently and not only appear when election is near.
“We have been serving the people whether it is election time or not. For example during the MCO (Movement Control Order) period, our team visited and delivered food aid provided by the state government to every household and longhouses in Bawang Assan,” he said.
Yesterday, Tiong announced local businessman Joshua Ting Fu Ying, 35, as the party’s candidate to challenge six-term incumbent Wong.
Tiong said the PDP preferred young and charismatic leaders to serve the people rather than the elderly who refused to let go.
Sibu-born Tiong and Wong were allies in the then Sarawak BN, with the former having received his party’s backing to stand in a state seat. Tiong is also the Bintulu MP.
In the last state election in 2016, Wong retained his seat and doubled his majority, from 1,808 votes to 4,131 votes due to a big swing in Chinese votes. He stood as a direct BN candidate then.
He garnered 9,015 votes against 4,884 votes for Stanley Chiew of the DAP, 100 votes for Wong Sing Wei (STAR), 569 votes Watson Bangau (Independent) and Yeu Bang Keng (Independent).
The former Second Finance Minister resigned from the state cabinet last year and announced that his party is no longer Gabungan Parti Sarawak-friendly. He is now president of Parti Sarawak Bersatu.