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By Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, Jan 5: Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Bumiputera wing is adamant that the three Bumiputera-majority seats of Opar, Mambong and Engkilili be returned to the party come the 12th state election.
SUPP Bumiputera wing, during its meeting at the party headquarters yesterday, resolved that the three seats — traditionally allocated to the party under the then Barisan Nasional (BN) regime — shall be contested by candidates recommended by the party.
SUPP deputy president Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem, who is also the wing’s chairman, supported the call by party members for these three state seats to be returned to the party.
The Serian MP, who chaired the meeting, explained the importance and significance of these seats to its over 30,000 Bumiputera members.
“During the last state election, the Bumiputera-majority seats of Opar, Mambong and Engkilili were won by BN direct candidates, while Datuk Francis Harden Hollis retained Simanggang.
“We are confident that the party would support this move (calls) from the Bumiputera wing,” said a party source when contacted.
He added that Harden, who was also present at the meeting, advised all party branches in the area to make early preparation as the due date for the election is not far away.
The next state election must be called by September 2021.
“In the 14th general election last May, SUPP only won one out of seven parliamentary seats it contested through Riot in Serian. Coincidentally, the Serian constituency is the only Bumiputera-majority seat for the party to contest then,” the source pointed out.
Before the last state polls in May 2016, SUPP was traditionally allocated four Bumiputera-majority seats of Opar, Mambong (previously known as Bengoh), Simanggang and Engkilili.
However, a leadership tussle led to the formation of United People’s Party (UPP) in 2014. Three assemblymen, Datuk Ranum Mina (Opar), Datuk Dr Jerip Susil (Mambong) and Johnical Rayong Ngipa (Engkilili), joined Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh in the breakaway party.
To ensure strong performance of BN in the 2016 state election, while maintaining peace and solidarity, all UPP lawmakers nominated to defend their seats had to resign and contest as direct BN candidates.
SUPP, meanwhile, fielded 10 candidates in Padungan, Pending, Batu Lintang, Kota Sentosa, Piasau, Senadin, Batu Kitang, Bukit Assek, Simanggang and Batu Kawah, which was contested by party president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian.
Founded in 1959, SUPP is the oldest surviving political party in Sarawak. It joined BN in 1970.
Meanwhile, during Friday’s (Jan 4) meeting, Andrew Tanyuh was appointed SUPP Bumiputera wing secretary and Akim Sarok as treasurer. — DayakDaily