The SUPP presidential race heating up?

Posted on November 2, 2011


How time flies. It’s already November.

One way to look at it is…in less than two months time, we’re all going to find out who will become the new president of SUPP, the oldest political party in our beloved Sarawak.

So who WILL replace Dr Chan – who lost his Piasau seat in April’s State Election and whose party suffered it’s worst ever results at the polls?

The way the local media is going at it so far, it seems that it’s going to be a two-horse race…between a horse from Sibu and a horse from Miri.

No idea who’s the front-runner or dark horse at this point in time. I haven’t been following the local political chatter in recent weeks, due mainly to work commitments (and in the process, found out it’s not easy to re-build momentum, once you stop blogging momentarily).

November will be a critical month for both potential presidential candidates and each will try to woo the delegates, especially those from the Kuching camp.

Don’t read too much into the newspaper reports at the moment though, because when the party elections finally go under way this December, the results will probably not be according to what anyone says now.

Remember how Ronaldo and Beckham said they were going to commit their future at Manchester United and never even thought of leaving? It’s sort of like that.

The party polls are still more than a month away and in politics this is practically a lifetime.

Another scenario that some pundits are forecasting is that a deal will be struck by the backroom boys to pave the way for some sort of compromise…which will avoid a face-off for the top party post.

Anti-climax for sure…but let’s hope it will help the party’s transfomation efforts, if they actually decide to go on that path.

Anyway, let’s also hope for BN’s sake that SUPP gets its act together in time for the Parliamentary elections, which is expected next year.

How BERNAMA sees it:

October 30, 2011 11:49 AM
Race For SUPP Presidency Gains Momentum

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 (Bernama) — The race for the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) presidency is gaining momentum as the two contenders, organising secretary Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui and assistant secretary-general Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, prepare their supporters for elections at the branch level prior to the central polls in December.

The SUPP will hold its branch elections next month and both sides, it has been reported, will put up their respective candidates to challenge each other to ensure that their representatives secure a seat in the party central leadership.

Party insiders say that Chin claims the majority of support from the southern zone of Kuching, Serian and Sri Aman, thereby commanding the higher number of delegates, about 250.

This accounts for almost half of the total 600 or so delegates. The other delegates will come from the northern and central zones, which will now top the list in terms of the battle for support by both sides.

Dr James Chin, political analyst at Sunway Monash University, said the battle will be intense in the branch elections, particularly in Sibu (where Soon Koh comes from) and Miri (where Peter Chin’s support base is).

“What they are doing is basically trying to make things difficult for each other and trying their best to reduce the number of their opponent’s supporters to be nominated as party delegates and later elected to the central committee.

“The bulk of delegates are still from the branches in Kuching, where the majority are known to be in support of Peter Chin. Only the bumiputera vote is split, as they are still unsure which side to support,” he said.

The SUPP election system is divided into two tiers. The first tier involves branch leaders voting for the 131 central committee posts. The number of delegates each branch sends depends upon the size of its membership. For every 250 members, a branch is entitled to send a delegation with a maximum of 70 delegates.

It is estimated that about 600 delegates would vote for the 131 central committee members.

The second tier meets when the elected 131 central committee members reconvene with the 600 delegates to elect the members of the all-powerful central working committee, including the president.

In fact, the heat is already on in Miri where Sim Poh Giap is set to challenge his former boss, Andy Chia, for the SUPP Pujut top post. Chia, incumbent chairman for the SUPP Pujut branch, is aligned with Peter Chin.

The decision by Sim, a former aide to Chia, to enter the fray has caught many by surprise, and this might signal that more surprises will be seen when the nomination and polling for the branch election of office-bearers opens on Nov 14 (from 10 am to 5 pm), with polling on Nov 20.

Even in the SUPP Piasau branch, Hii King Chiong, a businessman who comes from Sibu, is set to vie for the Piasau branch chairmanship against either Chin or his political secretary, Datuk Sebastian Ting.

The current branch chairman is party president Tan Sri Dr George Chan, who will step down in December. He lost the Piasau seat in the state election on April 16.

Additionally, Chin’s support might also be reduced by Senadin assemblyman Datuk Lee Kim Shin, who is also from Miri, as he is the running mate of Soon Koh and is eyeing the post of secretary general.

There are currently five (SUPP) branches in Miri – Senadin, Pujut, Piasau, Bekenu and Lambir – which will elect nearly 100 delegates for the party’s central elections in December.

Both sides have been working on the ground to shore up support from the delegates of the respective branches.

But on paper, it looks like Chin now holds the upper hand, with the estimated support of 250 delegates from the southern zone, dwarfing the 100 Soon Koh supporters from the central zone and majority support from Miri, in the northern region.

Apart from that, Chin claims he has the support of 306 grassroots leaders of 33 out of 43 branches across the state.

However, Dr Ahi Sarok, political analyst at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), said this is not enough to guarantee victory for Peter Chin or Wong as much depends upon the support of the party’s bumiputera members who make up nearly 50 per cent of the total membership.

“That’s why there is talk that Chin may team up with (vice-president Datuk Richard) Riot, who is the deputy foreign minister and Serian MP, even though he has not made any stand.

On Wong’s side, at least he has the support of three out of the four state assemblyman who are the party’s bumiputera members,” he said.

He further explained that even Chin’s claim to have 33 out of 43 branches supporting him is not a guarantee of victory as such declaration by branch leaders does not guarantee the support of all the delegates from a particular branch during the actual election on Dec 9 to 11.

However, a grassroots member from Bintangor branch, Felican Teo, pointed out that even if it does not guarantee all the members’ support, such a public declaration will boost the standing of the candidate and cause fence-sitters to back the perceived winner.

“Everyone wants to be seen to back the winner quite often since factions exist,” he said.