MANIFESTO: Cheng Kiong shows his proposed plan for a new Foochow Association cemetery.
SIBU: Two-way tussle for control of association.
Two groups will be fighting to take control of Sibu Foochow Association in what is expected to be the hottest election yet for the dialectal clan this Sunday.
In what is seen as a ‘life-and-death battle’, one group will be eliminated because in the nomination yesterday both groups fielded over 40 candidates each – the number needed to form the clan association committee.
Both groups have left no ground for negotiation, and both are led by prominent leaders of the Chinese community; both are also from the Sarawak Pan Chen Lau Clan Association.
The first leader to file for his group was Albert Lau, whose nomination was submitted by his representative Kapitan Lau Hieng Nguong. Fielding 42 candidates, Albert himself was absent yesterday morning.
The second to file in his nomination was Datuk Lau Cheng Kiong. He submitted 43 candidates for his team.
Cheng Kiong is the current first vice-chairman of Sibu Foochow Association while Albert is the second vice-chairman.
Cheng Kiong yesterday described the coming election as a fight between Team A and Team B where Albert’s group is Team A while his is Team B.
Current clan chairman Tiong Kiong King, who is a member of the election commission, said it was good to have challenge in a democratic election but feared that this might cause a split in the association.
Both teams are fielding heavy-weights as their candidates, making it a hard choice for clan members as it means having to eliminate one whole team.
Tiong admitted that both teams had good and capable leaders, saying in his six years as the clan chairman, he had worked with many of them and had seen their capability.
Cheng Kiong even came to the nomination yesterday morning armed with an election manifesto. For Albert, he was rather low key.
His representative Kapitan Lau Hieng Nguong kept mum when reporters tried to get his comment on the fight.
At 2.10pm yesterday, Tiong Kiong King announced all nominees were accepted when nominations were closed 10 minutes earlier.
He said there were also four individuals fielded as ‘independent candidates’, making this election a fight between 89 candidates for a 43-member committee.
As the clan election heats up, Cheng Kiong alleged in his manifesto that character assassination had occurred as poison letters had been circulated to tarnish the image of some of his candidates.
However, he did not make any indication that he would lodge a police report.
Cheng Kiong is a former president of Sibu United Chinese Association.
In his election manifesto titled ‘Creativity, Building of Strength and Expansion’, he listed seven points on what clan members could expect for the development of their community under his leadership, citing clan management and development of welfare and education as his vision for the community.
He told The Borneo Post that he had a team working behind him – a team made up of people from various surname clans and people from the different Foochow sub-clans.
“My vision is to include people from as many clans and Foochow sub-clans as possible to create a balance of power. This has never been stressed. For example, those in the minor surname groups will have a chance to serve in my group.”
Among other things, his manifesto stated that he would propose to set up another Foochow cemetery of about 60 acres in size near Nirvana burial ground at Mile 25, Oya Road.
“It is in a proposal stage; if I were elected, the plan will go ahead.”
He said his team would also acquire land from the state government for the purpose.
Under education, he said his team had planned to give out higher education loans to help students from poor families, besides setting up an education foundation.
Cheng Kiong also said he would stress on solidarity if he is elected.