Rusty Sarawak politics
Posted January 24, 2009on:
|Assistant minister quits party post|
|Tony Thien | Jan 24, 09 1:24pm|
|An assistant minister from Sarawak United People’s Party (Supp) yesterday resigned from his post as the party’s assistant publicity chief as he felt he could no longer perform his duties due to being constantly
sidelined by other party leaders in Sibu.
Dr Soon Choon Teck, 65, assistant minister of housing and state assemblyperson for Dudong since 1998, faxed his letter of resignation to party secretary-general Sim Kheng Hui on Friday morning. He also posted the letter to Sim at party headquarters in Kuching.
Confirming his decision, Soon told Malaysiakini that he could no longer discharge his duties as assistant publicity chief and that the only way forward for him was to resign.
He added that he was aware of requests by grassroots for him to resign as state assemblyperson. “I have not given any thought to that. Nothing at the moment,” he said.
Soon, one of the party’s seven state elected representatives, had a serious falling out with Sibu party leaders, led by senior minister and deputy secretary-general Wong Soon Koh, after he (Soon) sided with party president and Deputy Chief Minister Dr George Chan (right) in a party conflict two years ago.
The two factions in the party appeared to have set aside their differences and put up a united front during recent party elections and decided to give the party a chance to recover after its serious debacle in the May 2006 state elections, when it lost badly to the opposition, especially DAP.
The DAP took six of the party’s state seats, with PKR taking one and an Independent, now pro-BN, taking a Dayak majority seat. Supp managed to retain the other state seats with reduced majorities and there is a big question of the party’s future, especially with the coming state elections in two to three years’ time.
Soon is now serving his fourth term as the elected representative for Dudong and sources said the party has already decided to replace him in the coming elections.
There has also been talk that he or his supporters have been holding talks with the opposition, especially PKR, about him leaving Supp to join the opposition party.
However, Soon has denied such rumours, saying that he will remain loyal to Supp.
Political observers say that Soon may be dropped at the next state cabinet reshuffle expected to take place in March unless Dr Chan can put his foot down and stop it since he (Soon) has remained a loyal Chan supporter and can work with party colleagues from Kuching and Miri.
The opposition is said to be interested in luring Soon over but is not prepared to guarantee he will be re-nominated for the same seat under an opposition ticket.
Conflict to be settled soon
On a related matter, Supp’s management committee is expected to submit a formula to resolve the conflicts on the formation of the Dudong branch to the party’s Central Working Committee (CWC) soon.
Publicity and information secretary Alfred Yap yesterday said the committee had been working out a formula to keep everybody happy.
“Actually, our management committee deliberated on the matter on Wednesday, and we are working out a certain formula so that it will be endorsed by the CWC with regards to the formation of the Dudong branch,” Yap told reporters at a press conference during Supp’s Chinese New Year open house at the party’s headquarters in Kuching yesterday.
The conflict over the Dudong branch set-up cropped up last year when two pro-tem committees were set up, one with Dudong assemblyman Dr Soon as the chairperson and Lanang MP Tiong Thai King leading the other.
To resolve the matter, Supp on March 10 last year, called for a CWC meeting, which decided to set up a co-ordination committee to resolve the ‘twin’ committees within three months.
The party leadership has targeted to resolve the conflict by May this year.
Elected rep spurned by own party Tony Thien | Jan 20, 09 5:27pm A Sarawak United People’s Party (Supp) elected representative is finding himself increasingly sidelined and ignored by other party leaders in Sibu after he sided with Deputy Chief Minister and party president Dr George Chan in a party conflict last year. MCPX george chanAlthough the factions, led by Chan (left) and the other led by deputy secretary-general and senior state minister Wong Soon Koh appeared publicly to have set aside their differences, Dr Soon Choon Teck, the Dudong state assemblyperson and an assistant state minister and a staunch Chan supporter, has continued to be given the cold shoulder and boycotted from party activities. law hieng dingSoon’s decision to throw his support behind Chan as the latter’s leadership was challenged by all Sibu elected representatives from the party, including former Sarikei MP and party deputy president Law Hieng Ding (right), was seen as a betrayal of the Sibu Foochow cause. Since then, he has been sidelined and ignored by the Sibu branch led by Wong. Soon today confirmed to Malaysiakini that the party’s Sibu leaders have boycotted him for the past two years. However, he was quick to say that he and his supporters in Dudong had no intention of leaving the party to join PKR or any other party. There have been rumours after the falling out between the medical doctor-turned-politician and his colleagues that he was secretly in talks with some opposition parties. War of words Asked about rumours that he was about to call a press conference to make a major announcement, Soon said, “Nonsense. No such thing.” When asked whether he would consider resigning if pushed to a corner, he said: “No.” Things got worse a few days ago when Wong and Soon engaged in an acrimonious verbal exchange over the recommendations for new councillors in Sibu. Wong, who is in charge of local government matters, had been quoted last week as saying that Soon could not appoint councillors as the matter must be decided by the party. Soon replied that as an elected representative he had the right to make recommendations. Today, he insisted that he had, in fact, submitted three names for the two councils – Sibu Municipal Council and the Sibu Urban District Council. Soon said he was not perturbed and that he would bring the matter up at the next party meeting and the meeting of the Barisan Nasional.