SIBU: The Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) and its splinter group – the United People’s Party (UPP) – are staking their claim on seven parliamentary seats in the state.
The seats – Sibu, Lanang, Kuching, Serian, Sarikei, Miri and Stampin – include five traditionally belonging to SUPP.
UPP president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said it is public knowledge that both the party and SUPP want to have a share of the seven parliamentary seats.
“Both parties must work together, assessing each other’s strengths in each of the constituencies to identify the correct and winnable candidate to represent the Chinese community,” he said.
UPP, which was formed in 2014 after four assemblymen broke away from SUPP following a leadership tussle, is Barisan Nasional-friendly but has not been formally accepted into the coalition.
Unlike previous general elections, Barisan candidates for the two parliamentary seats in the district here – Sibu and Lanang – will be young entrepreneurs.
This is a change as since 1999, these seats have traditionally been contested by members from business elite families.
This year’s polls will not see candidates from the two business conglomerates of Rimbunan Hijau Group and KTS Group.
Businessmen Kelvin Kong and Joseph Chieng have been shortlisted by SUPP for Lanang while lawyer Robert Lau Hui Yew and the Chief Minister’s political secretary, Michael Tiang, are the party’s two choices for Sibu.
Lau is also the nephew of the late Sibu MP and SUPP vice-president Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew but does not work in the KTS Group. The late Lau was from the KTS Group.
UPP wants Datuk Andrew Wong, the son of UPP president Wong, who is also a senior minister in the state administration, for Sibu while businessman Andrew Ting is to stand in Lanang.
All the candidates have been active on the ground since last year.
Datuk Tiong Thai King, who lost Lanang to DAP’s Alice Lau in the last polls by 8,630 votes, will not be contesting as the Rimbunan Hijau Group executive director is currently the Dudong assemblyman.
Following Lau’s demise in 2010, his other nephew Vincent Lau, who is the deputy managing director of KTS, stood in the last elections but lost in a three-cornered fight.
DAP’s Oscar Ling won with a majority of 2,841 votes. The other candidate was Independent Narawi Harun.