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KUCHING, May 8 — State Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Datuk Abang Johari Openg believes the tide is turning in favour of the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP).
Abang Johari, who is also the chief minister, said the party, which was previously caught in a protracted leadership crisis, had become stronger under Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian after he was elected president in 2014.
“SUPP is now strong so you must protect them and support them for the future of the Chinese in Sarawak.
“Tomorrow, we will see SUPP become even stronger in Sarawak,” Abang Johari said to the cheer of the large crowd at Barisan Nasional’s last ceramah for the Stampin and Bandar Kuching seats.
He hoped that voters will ensure that SUPP would continue to grow from strength to strength to effectively represent the Chinese community.
“In the previous election, SUPP did not win many seats. This time, under the new SUPP leadership, show your support for Dr Sim so that you have a strong voice in Putrajaya,” he added.
Abang Johari reminded the Chinese community that the state BN’s policy was one of inclusivity, and that the government was fair to all races.
“Don’t forget what (the late) Tan Sri Adenan Satem said, ‘The Chinese are not ‘pendatang’ (immigrants). They are Sarawakians and therefore, we must have a strong Sarawak Chinese representation in parliament,” he said.
Adenan was chief minister from 2014 to 2017 when he passed away.
During the ceramah, Abang Johari also announced more than RM3 million in funding for street lights, education and Chinese entrepreneurs in Stampin and Bandar Kuching.
SUPP is contesting seven seats, six of which are Chinese-majority seats. In the last general election, the party only won one seat, Serian.
Except for Serian, all the other seats that the party is contesting are considered grey seats for BN.
Dr Sim, who is the Batu Kawah assemblyman, is locking horns with Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen, the Kota Sentosa assemblyman.
In Bandar Kuching, new face Kho Teck Wan is facing DAP greenhorn Kelvin Yii. The seat was previously represented by Chong.
SUPP have done poorly in state and parliamentary elections since 2006 but made some gains in the 2016 state election.
The party’s falling support was aggravated by a leadership tussle that led to a split in 2014.
The majority of the party’s elected representatives quit to form a new party, United People’s Party, about four years ago.
In the run up to this election, however, SUPP and its breakaway party agreed to settle their differences and work together for the polls.