KUCHING: With the general election approaching, the old question of whether Barisan Nasional-friendly parties can contest under the BN banner is again back on the table.
Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) in its attempt to preempt United People’s Party’s (UPP) candidates from being fielded in the coming general election struck first through its youth chief Tan Kai.
Tan Kai had claimed Tuesday that in the last state election, the condition set for direct BN candidates from a non-BN component party set by late Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem was that these candidates must resign from their respective parties and later join a BN component party after the election.
Tan Kai who is a political secretary to the Chief Minister said that UPP candidates who won during the election did not fulfil their promise to join ‘any of the BN component parties.’
“Therefore, UPP is abusing the trust given by Pehin Sri Adenan Satem and BN,” Tan was quoted as saying.
UPP secretary-general George Lo however, saw things differently and issued a statement on yesterday claiming that Tan Kai was ignorant.
“I refer to the press statement by Tan Kai alleging that UPP betrayed the late CM’s trust. Tan obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about and never bothered to check the facts.
“At the press conference on April 13, 2016 in the CM’s office when Adenan announced the UPP direct BN candidates, the press asked Adenan this exact question whether BN direct candidates must join a BN component party after the election.
“Adenan said they can join any party loyal to BN. I was present at the press conference. Tan was not. I speak from personal knowledge. Tan doesn’t. Tan should refer to the news reports at that time.
“The report makes it clear that Adenan never said the direct candidates had to join a component party. That is why Adenan had no objection when the elected representatives joined UPP,” said Lo in the statement.
Tan’s intention in making his earlier statement is obvious, and that is to point out that UPP is not a BN component party and thus has no legitimate claim on any seats. He has also denied that the BN coalition’s success in the last state election was due to UPP’s winnable candidates, which Lo had claimed.
From the exchange between the two, it is not difficult to deduce that this quarrel is not about the past but the immediate future.
However, based on the arguments being put forward, the main contention now is SUPP wants all its traditional seats back while UPP is fighting for as many seats as it can, from those traditionally allocated to SUPP.
The fundamental question now is, will the BN-friendly party be allowed to stand under the BN banner in the pending general election?
No one knows the answer. The only one who can answer the question is state BN chairman Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg who is the chief minister.