Land issues and the influx of young voters in the next electoral roll could create a real headache to Sarawak United People Party (SUPP) as its tries to wrestle back lost seats and win more.
The meeting with Land & Survey Department Bintulu Divison superintendent on Friday might have cleared some of the clouds hanging over their head. But from the look on the faces of those attended the meeting – most couldn’t hide their anxieties – particularly over the fate of the party in the upcoming state elections.
In a candid manner over lunch at one of the restaurant in ParkCity after the meeting, Bintulu branch SUPP deputy chairman Johny Phang open up a bit.
Albeit reluctantly, he admitted land issues could pose a threat to the party not only in Bintulu but also statewide.
It is a contentious issue which the opposition successfully manipulated to their advantages in previous election and one that still worries many within SUPP till these days.
Sarawak voters – particular Chinese voters see it as an unfair policy despite the fact that the state has one of best land policy in the country according to Henry Ling, SUPP Bintulu branch chairman.
“Unlike rural voters – urban voters could not be easily swayed and they are very opinionated. For rural voters you can throw them development projects, they will vote for you. In urban areas that might not work,” Phang said.
Phang also expressed worry over the increasing number of youth particularly among the Chinese in the state becoming less interested in politics generally and the party struggle in particular.
He related a story of SUPP Bintulu retreat to Golden Beach at Simalajau sometimes back involving youth of Bintulu.
He said it wasn’t an overtly political retreat to make the youth comfortable but still enable them to get a clue into those young voters political inclination.
“Imagine when we asked who is state SUPP leader? They replied Lim Kit Siang!” he said.
There, according to Phang lied much of the problem with the community that could be a threat to Sarawak’s oldest party if not properly handled.
“It will be very difficult for SUPP to convince young voters especially among the Chinese as they are naturally rebellious and increasingly less interested in politics.
To suggestion that the party could resolve the problem by phasing out its increasingly aging leaders, he said they party was working on solutions to the problem.
In our AGM few years ago some young people in the party want to contest the CC (Central Committee) posts. I said “why not.”
“But opinions were varied some disagreed with the ideas.
Phang reckoned it would be very difficult for SUPP president to step down if the party internal problems – which he didn’t elaborate linger on.
“Can you imagine what will happen if quarrellings sons left without a father?” he said.