KUCHING: SUPP’s new central committee is proposing amendments to its constitution with succession in mind, including structural reforms like term limits and direct election.
Senator Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian told his press conference as president, the party had written to the Registrar of Societies, seeking permission to amend its constitution via a Special Delegates Conference, which it aims to hold this year.
Amendments seek to introduce term limits for the president to no more than nine years, direct election for the top five party posts and to curtail the power of party branches to nominate candidates for state and general elections.
As the new president, Dr Sim, who is 49, said he should be out of the party’s top post before he turned 60.
“The reason is to prevent leaders from saying things they like, ‘But the people still want me’, after 30 years.
“If in 20 years, I’m still here talking as the president, then I would have failed.
“I’m giving a roadmap of what I want to do within a timeframe so therefore I got to get certain things done.
“The party’s office bearers need a time frame.
“If I stay around for 20 years, do you think young ones have a chance?” said Dr Sim here on Monday.
He added that the term limits should eventually be applied to lesser roles in the party.
“As for direct elections, it should apply to the posts of president, deputy, vice as well as secretary general and treasurer,” Dr Sim said.
On limiting branches’ powers to decide on election candidates, Dr Sim said this was to ensure a wider pool of people could be considered.
A lot of voters in urban areas were originally from rural areas, he said, and they would like to have a say too.
“If candidate selection is only up to (urban) branches, then you might end up with the same faces or the candidates unknown to a large segment of public.”
Throughout the interview, Dr Sim made several references to changing the political mindset and spoke about his experiences as a doctor in Australia.
Dr Sim spoke about SUPP’s lack of youth members as the biggest survival issue for the party.
There are officially 110,000 registered members, of which 60,000 are fee paying members, but only 3,000 are under 30 years old. Getting youth participation is “urgent”, he said.
Towards that end, he said the party would form bureaus, taskforce, and advisory panels, which will allow member and non-members to participate in.
The party he now heads is one of the smallest component parties within Barisan Nasional.
Dr Sim acknowledged this, saying he has repeatedly told the Prime Minister and Chief Minister: “We are your partners but you have to help your smaller sisters and brothers”.
Asked about conciliation efforts with UPP - the SUPP offshoot that has more elected representatives and minister on its side - Dr Sim said: “In politics there are no permanent friends, no permanent enemies. There are things you have to be sincere about right? It takes two to tango or else energy is just being wasted.”