The Sarawak BN chairman's refusal to accept 'recycled' candidates has left alliance partners in a predicament.
KUCHING: It will be back to the drawing board for Sarawak Barisan Nasional coalition parties who were taken by surprise when state chairman Taib Mahmud declared that candidates who were defeated in the 2006 polls it would not be fielded in the soon-to-be held 10th state elections.
Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Sarawak progressive Democratic party (SPDP) leaders had all announced that they would be retaining their incumbents including candidates who had been defeated before.
For SUPP president George Tan, Taib’s latest ruling, announced at Saturday’s BN convention here that BN will not ‘recycle’ its candidates, has put him in dilemma.
Taib had reportedly said : “It is the opposition which recycles its leaders. We do not put up defeated people.”
The ruling will immediately affect the status of SUPP publicity officer Alfred Yap Chin Loi who is tipped to contest in Kota Sentosa.
Yap, a former assistant minister and a strong supporter of Chan, has been working hard in the constituency he lost to DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen in the last election by 531 votes.
Yap has helped registered more voters for the constituency, from 18,934 in the last election to more than 25,000 voters – an increase of more than 30 percent.
The incumbent Chong described the increase as the work of Yap to ensure his (Yap’s) victory in the coming election.
“I’m prepared to continue to serve the people again and since my defeat, I have never stopped going to the ground to help out the people in the constituency,” said Yap.
“Give me another chance to be in the government so that SUPP can serve the people better,” pleaded Yap, a lawyer by training. Serious repercussions
The question now is, will Chan stick to his promise to field Yap or will he kow-tow to Taib? If he fields Yap, then he will be going against Taib’s ‘ruling’.
This show of ‘disrespect’ may be exploited by the opposition. It may also antagonise Taib who has given so much “goodies” to certain SUPP leaders in terms of business contracts, provisional leases on native customary rights land and timber concessions areas.
Taib has the power to give and the power to take back. Worse, if Chan does not field Yap, the effects will be multipled. Firstly, the opposition may say Chan and SUPP exist at the whims and fancies of the chief minister.
They say that Chan has no clout or say in the running of its party. In the eyes of the Chinese, this is bad. They do not want their leaders to be mere followers. Even closely associating with Taib has sent an unfavourable signal to the Chinese Community.
The Sibu by-election in May last year was an example where Taib, who they call “Pek More”, was barred from campaigning in the Chinese section of the constituency.
Secondly, Yap’s probable non-candidacy is certain to disappoint some of his supporters, who have been working hard to prepare him for the election.
Disappointed as they are, they may not want to help in the election. Or they may even boycott and vote for the opposition to “teach” the leaders a lesson.
This has happened before in Pending and Padungan seats where SUPP members had supported the opposition to ensure the defeat of the SUPP-BN candidates.
Thirdly, SUPP has not prepared a second line of candidates. All these are putting a heavy pressure on the SUPP president. - FMT