The just-concluded three-day SUPP triennial delegates’ conference (TDC) has left party members and political observers wondering on the future the party, one of the oldest Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) component members.
The reason being that the party is still struggling with infighting, senior leaders still holding top posts and lack of second echelon leaders to take over the leadership.
Infighting seems to have taken roots in the party, so much so that the top l leadership, through consensus, decided to maintain the status quo for most of the posts in order to maintain stability.
SUPP president Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam, who continues to lead the party after the TDC, openly said that his biggest challenge now was to minimise the internal fighting.
“We have to be stern on this. If those involve cannot solve this in six months, I will have to use the ‘tien san’ method, that is, to suspend the branches involved,” he told Bernama in a interview here.
Dr Chan, who said that “enough is enough”, called on party members to unite, saying they were left with little choice other than to stay united and minimise bickering and factional fued before the coming state election.
“If we had allowed contest (in the recent TDC), the candidates would have fought all the way and it would take years for the party to recover,” he said.
It is an open secret that the party is divided into several groups and factions, even to the extent of branches having different set of committee members.
While previously the problem was limited to factions in Kuching, Sibu and Miri, and it has now spread to the grassroots level involving branch leaders.
Dr Chan said the party had no other options except to put a stop to the bickering because if left unchecked, it could lead to more serious problems such as money politics.
“We have no problems of money politics so far but if the infighting continues, it will eventually lead to that,” he said.
There was still hope for the party, however, as some younger members had shown their strength of character by holding on to their principle and refused to be drawn into factionalism, Dr Chan said.
“I will be gathering some of them whom I hope will really believe in the party’s principle — those who have proven to be able to withstand the pressure from all quarters — to move the party forward.
“These young members are the party’s future leaders… in politics, you’ve got to have principles, otherwise, the highest bidder will eventually get you,” he added.
Dr Chan did not deny the possibility of the party being wiped out in the coming state election if the infighting continued.
He said the prospect of the party being wiped out in the election should drive them together to strengthen the party.
Dr Chan also hit out at critics who accused him of having backtracked from his earlier promise to step down at the TDC by agreeing to accept the central working committee’s call for him to stay.
“You think I don’t have face to save? I do. But for the sake of the party and unity, I’ve had to swallow my pride. The rest had to do the same… swallow their pride so that the party can go forward.
“If the party is destroyed, you are gone too. What sort of honour do you have then?” he asked.