In the 1oth Sarawak State Election held last Saturday, Sarawak United People’s Party or SUPP suffered a major blow.
Not only did it NOT win back the seats it lost in the 2006 State election, it lost a total of 13 out of the 19 that it contested for.
Over the weekend, the oldest party in Sarawak saw its president, who is a Deputy Chief Minister, lose his seat, along with two assistant ministers, who all lost their seats to DAP greenhorns.
Over the next few days, weeks and months, SUPP will no doubt go on a soul-searching mission…because although the blow to the party was major, fortunately it was not fatal.
If you look at the current line-up of State representatives in SUPP, you will see that it has four Bumiputera YBs (two Iban and two Bidayuh) and two Chinese YBs.
Wow. Talk about transformation! SUPP doesn’t even look like a Chinese party anymore.
It looks like the party’s gone full circle because when it was formed in 1959, SUPP was a truly multi-racial political organisation.
Maybe on SUPP’s journey to regain its soul, it would look in the direction of creating a truly multi-racial party.
From the looks of its campaigning, DAP has decided that it will be the most Chinese party that it can be, and I don’t blame it because essentially that is the soul of the party.
The national chairman of DAP and his son may argue otherwise…but in Sarawak, deep down in our hearts, we all know its true.
The colour of a man’s hair may have been the focal point of DAP’s campaign in 2011, but we all also know that it won because it was successful in tapping into the sentiments of the urban Chinese.
I have to admit that DAP’s campaign was brilliant in the way it energized the party’s hardcore supporters and also in the way it won over the Chinese fence-sitters.
However, as much as I admired the implementation of the campaign, it was pretty clear that DAP was all about style and all about pandering to the crowds at the ceramah, who were clearly showing their dissatisfaction with SUPP – the party that was supposed to be representing their voices in the government.
DAP sold the message of CHANGE and it also sold a toy hornbill called UBAH.
Both were lapped up eagerly by the DAP faithful, although the actual substance of the DAP message and the stuffing of the DAP soft toy were not far different.
Anyway, SUPP should not dwell too much on the success of the DAP campaign, and neither should it focus too much on the failure of its own efforts (although committees should be set up as soon as possible to look into these two issues!).
What SUPP should be doing now is to LISTEN.
Listen to the people that it wants to (and knows that it can) represent to the best of its abilities.
SUPP must also LEARN from what it has listened to.
I believe that only after LISTENING and LEARNING should SUPP hope to LEAD people again.
In the coming weeks and months, I’m pretty sure SUPP will be receiving a lot of solicited and unsolicited advice.
But I really hope that the results of the State Election will not crush the soul of the party, rather it will be the catalyst for the party to transform itself into a stronger and more unified force.
Just a friendly reminder, though: the sooner it starts, the better!