Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Riot as president bad for SUPP – Opposition reps

MIRI: Two opposition elected representatives here believe that if SUPP deputy president Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem heads the predominantly Chinese party, SUPP would be in deeper trouble.

Miri MP Dr Michael Teo and Independent Pujut assemblyman Fong Pau Teck said politically it could backfire on SUPP, and it would thus benefit the opposition.

“It all depends on the Barisan Nasional (BN). If it really happens, we (Pakatan Rakyat) will get more members as the Chinese will cross over to the opposition,” said Dr Teo.

He argued that SUPP would
be rejected by grassroots members if Riot became its president due to the voters’ “demographic reality”.

He added that SUPP members had the right to be consulted and decide on their choice of leadership.

“What will the members think if this happens? They should be asked to decide. If Riot becomes SUPP president, members of the party who used to look up to a Chinese leader will be looking up to a Bidayuh leader instead,” said Dr Teo.

He added that communication could also be a problem as language barrier and culture would have to be overcome, apart from the leadership split between factions headed by party president Tan Sri Peter Chin Fah Kui and SUPP Sibu Branch chairman Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh.

“When one group tries to remove the other group, it is not good for SUPP. If they can unite, they might be stronger.”

Fong said the interest of the people should be above all else, and that he was personally impartial about the race of the political party leader.

“For me, whatever race is okay as long as it solves issues regarding all races. The problem in SUPP is not about what race leads them. It’s about the old not letting new blood take over.”

Fong, who defeated incumbent Andy Chia Chu Fatt of SUPP in the last state elections, said the loss of support for SUPP stemmed from infighting in the party.

He said SUPP’s current crisis stemmed from the older generation refusing to pass the baton to the younger generation and frowning upon dissenting views.

“It seems that people who dare to speak the truth are chopped down, and that it is not healthy. SUPP will not have a future as long as the old leadership is not changed to welcome new blood.”

On Sunday, Riot said he was prepared to vie for the party’s presidency if he had delegates’ support and if the conflict between Chin and Wong was not solved.

He pledged that if he were elected, he would prioritise getting young and capable leaders to hold key posts in the party and attempt to unite all members. - theborneopost

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