Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is SUPP pulling out of Sarawak BN?

KUCHING : Sarawak is abuzz with rumours that the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) is pulling out of the Barisan Nasional (BN).

Several Chinese newspapers here have played up speculations after after SUPP secretary-general Sim Kheng Hui declined to confirm or deny rumours that the long-standing BN partner was pulling out of the coalition.

Rumours began swirling last week following a secret meeting among SUPP’s top leaders and elected representatives in Kuala Lumpur.

The rendezvous was to have been a prelude to a meeting with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak from whom SUPP is seeking help to settle problems affecting the party, one of which is that the party and the Chinese community have been ignored, bullied or marginalized allegedly by Chief Minister Abdul Taib’s government.

But SUPP leaders however failed to meet with the Prime Minister. Another meeting is expected to be arranged soon.

It is understood that during the KL meeting each one of the leaders, including ministers and deputy and assistant ministers, were asked to sign an undertaking to “sink and swim” with the party with whatever decision the leadership makes.

A few of them, including one minister, refused to sign the undertaking and this has prompted many to think that the oldest party in Sarawak is facing a major split.

“This is the worst crisis that the 50-year old party is facing,” said a party leader who was among those present at the meeting.

Right signals from members

Meanwhile, SUPP grassroots leaders and members are keen on the party pulling out of BN

Most have sent signals to the party leadership urging them to pull out of the state BN, but to maintain a status quo at the federal level.

“We have a precedent to follow,” they said, referring to the time in 1987 when Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak was a member of the federal coalition, but an opposition at the state level.

“SUPP has become a toothless tiger in the state,” they said, pointing out that the party is expected to do badly in the coming state election if nothing is done to arrest the problem between the party and Taib.

SUPP has blamed its failures in 2006 state election - where it lost eight seats and the loss of the Sibu by-election in May this year - on Taib.

In order to win back the Chinese support, SUPP wants to be given the “full authority” to give assistance to the Chinese in terms of business opportunities, Chinese education, scholarships and places in universities.

So far Taib has not responded to the demands made by the party.

SUPP joined the Sarawak coalition government under Taib’s uncle Abdul Rahman Yakub in 1970 and later the state BN government.

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