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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Dec 8: “We will cross the bridge when we get there.”
That is the reply reporters got from Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg when they asked him whether United People’s Party (UPP) would be admitted into the ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).
When pressed whether UPP had applied to join the four-party coalition, he said, “You ask them.”
Speaking to the media after declaring open UPP’s Extraordinary Delegates Conference (EDC) here today, the chief minister reiterated that a new party could be accepted into GPS “as long as 75 per cent or three-quarter (of the four component parties) agreed”.
Admission into GPS would not be based on consensus of all member parties as practised by the Barisan Nasional (BN) previously, he explained.
On the launch of GPS, which is now legally registered, Abang Johari said its four partners — Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) — would convene a meeting on Jan 9 to decide on the matter.
Meanwhile, UPP’s EDC will, among others, discuss and make a decision on plans to change the party’s name to Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB), its logo as well as amending its constitution.
Party president Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh assured that whether it is UPP or PSB, it would not change the characteristics of the multi-racial party. He pledged to reject communalism or racism in any form as well as condemn extremism, radicalism and even chauvinism and parochialism.
“We will not be shackled by emotions, and we will open ourselves to a broader and more encompassing perspective, a Sarawakian perspective, to nurture a united front of all races in our party and in the state of Sarawak,” said Wong, who is also Second Minister of Finance.
In his address, Abang Johari commented that UPP’s rebranding plan was a historical and significant move that reflected the party’s committment to readjust to a new political environment, instead of remaining static.
“It shows that you are a party that is dynamic and moving together for the change,” he remarked.
“I saw the (proposed) logo with a rising sun … not bad lah, you,” he said, as laughters filled the hall, while recalling that Asia was transformed by the Land of the Rising Sun — Japan — where Emperor Meiji sent students to learn the latest technology from Europe and that helped transformed Japan and Asia.
“Together, we can have the sun as I haven’t launched GPS and unveiled its logo, but it seemed like the colours are more or less the same,” he hinted and laughed about the similarities.
Echoing Wong’s perspective, Abang Johari pointed out that political objective mainly to struggle for the sake of the people, strong economic growth as well as political stability and policies consistency were pre-conditions that would ensure Sarawak is on the right track towards becoming a developed state.
“We will work with other parties with the same objectives on a common platform to protect Sarawak rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and rights in the Constitution as well as fight for the benefits and interests of all people,” he assured.
“We have to establish the political ecosystem and with a common platform, we can move forward together, including your (UPP) party. But what’s most important is Sarawakians must be united to protect Sarawak. We must be united politically so that everybody, regardless of race and religion, will benefit.”
Abang Johari said when “when Sarawak is happy, Malaysia will be happy”.
“Just like a family. If members of the family are not happy, the family has problems. If the family members are happy, surely the father is happy, the parents are happy. So make sure Malaysia is a happy nation and members of the nation are happy,” he concluded.
UPP deputy president Datuk Dr Jerip Susil and party secretary-general George Lo were among those present. — DayakDaily