Tiong eyeing Deputy CM’s post?

Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing - Bintulu MP
Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (The Star Pic)

By Emma Victoria

PROGRESSIVE Democratic Party (PDP) president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing is already the Bintulu MP and a Special Envoy of the Prime Minister with Ministerial status. So why does a five-term federal lawmaker want to stand in the upcoming Sarawak election?

Universiti Malaya political analyst Associate Professor Awang Azman Awang Pawi believes Tiong is eyeing the Deputy Chief Minister’s post, especially if his party can perform better than the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS).

PDP has been active working on the ground in the central region, involving several seats traditionally contested by the SUPP.

Earlier, there were rumours that Tiong was keen to contest in Bawang Assan to challenge incumbent Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh.

However, Tiong recently announced that PDP would propose Bawang Assan Youth chief Joshua Ting, who is “young, fresh and dynamic”.

Now, Tiong “is showing interest” to stand in Dudong. Last week, PDP senior vice-president Teo Boon Siew reminded SUPP Dudong branch leaders that the state seat is not an ‘asset’ to any party.

Teo, who is PDP Dudong branch chairman, said all parties can propose their candidates but only the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Abang Openg has the final say, according to Borneo Post.

Awang Azman said it is understandable why Tiong is interested in the seat as it was once held by the Sarawak National Party (SNAP) in the 1970s.

After that, SNAP and SUPP held the seat alternatively before it became SUPP’s “traditional seat”.

SNAP was later de-registered and one of its factions later formed the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party, the predecessor to the now PDP.

“This is why, he (Tiong) felt that his party has the right to reclaim or to contest again in Dudong. Besides, it is possible to win the seat if the political game is done by attracting Bumiputera votes. There are over 48 per cent Bumiputera voters there,” he said.

The political analyst predicted that Tiong, who is also the Prime Minister’s special envoy to China, would be willing to give up the federal post if he can win in the state election.

“It is likely he would prefer to be in the state cabinet as he has the chance to become the Deputy Chief Minister.

“Furthermore, the political situation at the federal level is quite fragile compared to Sarawak, which is more stable,” Awang Azman said.

Tiong has yet to respond on request for comment about his purported interests to be the Deputy CM.

The incumbent for Dudong is Datuk Seri Tiong Thai King, who wrested the seat from the DAP in the last state election when he contested as a BN direct candidate. However, he later joined Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB), an independent party formed by ex-SUPP veteran leader Wong.