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Sunday December 15, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday December 15, 2013 MYT 2:50:59 PM
by yu ji
KUCHING: SUPP deputy president Datuk Richard Riot has broken his silence on the party’s infighting, saying he hopes the Registrar of Societies (ROS) would announce its decision soon.
Riot said he was “neutral”, neither taking Tan Sri Peter Chin or Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh’s side.
Interestingly, he called Wong “a friend”, adding that Wong and him last talked “two weeks ago”. Riot claimed politics was not discussed.
Asked if he has been interviewed by ROS, Riot said he had not. The party’s problems, he explained, “are between Chin and Wong”.
Riot, a Bidayuh from Serian, is the first non-Chinese to be appointed deputy president at the predominantly Chinese party.
He assumed the position during SUPP’s controversial triennial delegates conference two years ago.
Back then, Riot’s appointment surprised many, especially after Wong and his supporters (which include SUPP’s other bumiputra elected representatives) pulled out of the party election. The opposing faction alleged election irregularities.
In May, after the last general election, ROS served show cause letters to SUPP, including to Chin, based on complaints from Wong’s faction.
In a countermove, the faction led by Chin threatened Wong with a SUPP show cause letter, which Wong received last week.
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[HEADLINE: Riot finally accepts questions on SUPP matters]
All this while, Riot has never commented on the SUPP infighting.
Approached by reporters yesterday after officiating a community event here, Riot finally relented and accepted questions on SUPP matters.
The following is the impromptu press conference in full:
Question: Can you clear the air on what is the situation within SUPP now?
Answer: On SUPP matters, I used to say I don’t want to touch. To me, what is important for SUPP... since you are asking, as far as I’m concerned, we leave it to the ROS and see what happens next.
As the deputy president — of course the other faction does not recognise us — I would want to see SUPP not be deregistered. But if the ROS says otherwise then we’ll have to abide by the decision.
I just hope the ROS will come up with a decision fast. The (Sarawak) election is coming, nearer and nearer. I hope the decision will be out sooner.
Q: Have you been interviewed by ROS?
A: No. Because this is between my president Chin and Wong. I have never been interviewed. Actually, this is the first time I am responding to questions pertaining to SUPP.
Before this, I never respond. To me, since I’m in the Federal Cabinet, my most important task is on human resource development.
Q: How would you describe your relationship with Wong?
A: I am neutral. Very simple. Neutral. Wong, I have no grudge against him, he has no grudge against me. We are friends.
I prefer, to be very frank, you quote me on this, I prefer to be neutral. I don’t (take) sides.
But the survival of SUPP rests in the hands of ROS. I really hope it will not be deregistered. I don’t say I’m with Chin side or on
Q: When was the last time you spoke to Wong?
A: Well, we bump into each other every now and then on my flights to Kuala Lumpur. I travel a lot.
Q: The last time you talked to Wong, was it recent?
A: About two weeks back. We didn’t talk politics.
Q: Wong was sent a show cause letter...
A: That one, no comment, because I was not at party to it. I was not in the room when they made the decision.
Q: There is talk circulating that your Serian branch will have a press conference soon. Can you comment?
A: I do not know who organised it. I have been busy with ministerial duties. That is news to me. If there will be one, I am not the mastermind behind it. As the chairman (of Serian branch), I should have been informed.
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Politics, East Malaysia, SUPP deputy president Datuk Richard Riot has broken his
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