Soon Koh to step down

Wong at the press conference at Bangunan Baitulmakmur, Kuching today (July 15, 2019).

Editor’s note: Additional details added at 5:15pm. More details to come in a separate story.

By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, July 15: Second Finance-cum-International Trade and E-Commerce Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh is resigning from all his cabinet ministerial posts.

He made the announcement just now at a press conference held at his office at Bangunan Baitulmakmur here.

However, Wong did not give a timeline as to when he would step down, only saying that he would need to meet with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg first.

Wong who is also Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president has been mulling over his resignation because PSB leaders were not included in the new councillors list which was accepted in principle by the Cabinet during a meeting on July 11, 2019 (Thursday).

Describing the absence of PSB leaders in the new councillors list as “cutting off PSB’s arms and legs”, Wong said at the PSB Annual Delegates’ Conference (ADC) held in Sibu on Saturday (July 13) that the move had left him “no moral locus standi to represent the party in the cabinet” and for him to resign was “a matter of political integrity”.

Wong has also been considering resignation due to the “hostility” from the Sarawak government towards the party by freezing PSB elected representatives’ allocations under the Minor Rural Project (MRP) and Rural Transformation Programme (RTP) initiatives.

Wong referred the issue of his resignation to his party’s ADC. On the same day, the ADC returned with the resolution to leave the decision to Wong on whether he should leave the state cabinet.

In the press conference following the ADC, Wong did not make his decision but announced that he would let Abang Johari make the decision, since it was Abang Johari who appointed him in the first place.

PSB which has been claiming it is Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS)-friendly is not a component party of the ruling coalition which comprises Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), Parti Raykat Sarawak (PRS) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).

Despite so, Wong was still appointed as a minister while PSB deputy president Datuk Dr Jerip Susil who announced he had resigned from PSB through a press statement dated July 10, was appointed Assistant Minister of Transportation.

Wong was SUPP deputy president before he broke away in 2014 to set up United People’s Party (UPP) which took a GPS-friendly (then Sarawak Barisan Nasional) stance.

After the 2016 Sarawak election, Wong continued as Deputy Finance Minister, a post he has been holding since 2004.

After the 2016 Sarawak election, despite not being part of the ruling party coalition, Wong was retained as a cabinet minister, holding two portfolios.

The relationship between Wong and GPS has been perceived to have soured after PSB’s aggressive membership drive which intruded into the constituencies of seats held by GPS component parties. It further deteriorated after PSB openly pinched elected representatives from GPS component parties. — DayakDaily