Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) president Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam confirmed Monday that he would not be defending the Piasau state seat which he has been holding since 1983.g-chan

The deputy chief minister said several young leaders had been identified as the potential candidate for the seat in the coming state election, which must be held at the latest by 2011.

”Yes, I have said this (not defending the seat), including to the media,” he told reporters at the SUPP Chinese New Year open house here Monday.

He said SUPP would give attention to strengthening the party, including nurturing young leaders who had good working relations with other Barisan Nasional component parties.

Dr Chan, 73, won the Lambir parliamentary seat in 1982. He contested and won the Miri state seat in the 1983 state election and defended it in 1987.

In the 1991 state election, Dr Chan retained the seat, which had been renamed Piasau, and has been its assemblyman ever since.

On the resignation of Datuk Dr Soon Choon Teck as the party’s deputy publicity secretary, he said party members should not make a big issue out of it.

What was important was for party members to remain united, he said.

He indicated that there would be changes to the SUPP lineup in the near future.

“Let’s wait for after the Chinese New Year. We are going to have a new team … a mix of new and old faces to lead the party.”