SUPP Will Be Marginalized Like Other BN Component Parties Within BN Sarawak Unless George Chan Can Justify That The Modernisation of Agriculture Ministry Is More Important Than His Former Finance Ministry And Not a Demotion.

Speech at Kuching Branch Dinner

Lim Guan Eng

(Kuching, Monday): SUPP will be marginalized like other BN component parties within BN Sarawak unless SUPP President Tan Sri Dr George Chan can justify and convince the public that the Modernization of Agriculture Ministry is more important than his former Finance Ministry. SUPP may not have suffered the survival problems of other BN-component parties. But SUPP President Dr George Chan’s move to Modernisation of Agriculture Ministry from Finance in the state Cabinet reshuffle last year is still seen as a slap and demotion for SUPP.

The Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) is the State's oldest political party. Even when SUPP recorded its worst electoral performance during the 1997 state general elections by losing three seats to DAP, including then SUPP President Tan Sri Dr Wong Soon Kai, SUPP retained the Finance Ministry’s post.  To date neither has SUPP nor George Chan explained how Modernisation of Agriculture Ministry is more important than Finance.

Despite the Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s many denials, politics is about perception. And the perception is that SUPP has been demoted and downgraded in importance with a comparatively less important portfolio. By taking over the Finance Ministry, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud has only reinforced his unchallenged power and dominance over the oldest political party in Sarawak.

MCA had also lost the Finance Ministry post despite winning the 1974 general elections and to date this loss has made MCA into  a classic case of “a houseowner, but do not have the power as one”. SUPP’s failure and inability to challenge Taib Mahmud over the loss of the Finance Ministry despite winning the 2001 state general elections, has displayed both its submission to the Chief Minister and political impotence.  

History may be repeating itself for the SUPP. No matter if SUPP receive 100% support from the Chinese community, it will never have the courage to face up to Taib Mahmud for the interests of the people. Clearly giving 100% support to SUPP is not going to make any difference, it may be worse for the people.

What has SUPP done for those landowners whose land leases have expired? Is Sarawak going to be full of landless people. If private property owners loses out, then Chinese schools will be next on the list.

Another example is Japan’s application as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Despite the strong objections raised by the Chinese community, Foreign Minister Datuk Syed Hamid Albar has reaffirmed Malaysia’s stand supporting Japan. SUPP has not objected in Cabinet against Malaysia’s position nor raised any proposal to change Malaysia’s stand  from supporting to opposing Japan’s application.

DAP urges the Malaysian government to reconsider its support for Japan as a member of the United Nations Security Council member based on 4 reasons:-

1.   The refusal by Japan to apologise sincerely and unconditionally for the atrocities committed against millions of innocent citizens of South Korea, Taiwan, China and South-East Asia during the Second World War whether killing, raping, torturing and even forcing young girls to be comfort women to prostitute for Japanese Imperial Army (where even Malay women were victimized as stated in the new book “Forgotten Armies” by two Cambridge professors Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper);

2.   The unjustifiable act of Japan of changing history by refusing to correct its secondary school textbooks to reflect the actual truth of Japan’s aggression and invasion of Asian countries;

3.   The refusal by Japan MPs to stop paying its annual respects to the sacrifices of Japanese Imperial Army in the Shinto religious war memorial; and

4.   The failure of Japan to compensate for its past actions whether financially or building a memorial in Japan for the victims of its atrocities.

The Malaysian government should stop its immoral and stubborn support for Japan’s application without consideration for the feelings and sufferings of the victims of Japanese occupation. The decision by the Malaysian government to support Japan’s application together with Germany is disproportionate, unbalanced and even inconsistent because it equates refusal to shoulder blame on the one hand with repentance on the other.

The book “Forgotten Armies” showed that the Chinese in Malaya were not the only victims, Malays and Indians suffered too. By refusing to support the stand of all Chinese associations, SUPP have gone against the wishes of the Chinese community demanding that Malaysia  withdraw its support for Japan on moral and humanitarian grounds.

Taib Mahmud Must Press The Federal Government  To Do More For Sarawak Especially In Development Funding As Well As A Fairer And Larger Share Of Natural Resources.

As the new Sarawak Finance Minister, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud’s economic performance has been disappointing in pressing the Federal Government to do more for Sarawak not only in development funding but also for a fairer and larger share of natural resources.

Some Sarawakians have expressed disillusionment with the Federal Government’s neglect of the economic development in Sarawak as compared with Peninsular Malaysia whether in terms of highways, communication services, basic amenities or IT access. It is easy to see why such resentment of discrimination and neglect arise.

The Federal Government had allocated a total of RM117.4 billion for the 2005 Budget, comprising RM89.1 billion for operating expenditure and RM28.3 billion for development expenditure. The development allocation for Sabah and Sarawak amounts to only RM 3.8 billion or only 4.2% for the two biggest states in Malaysia. The amount is even smaller if Sarawak is taken alone.

In 2004, Sarawak’s GNP per capita is RM 16,047, lower than Malaysia GNP per capita of RM 16,538/-(Bank Negara 2004 Annual Report). As the largest and richest state in natural resources, new State Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud can not be proud of such desultory performance. It is such economic disparity and funding for development projects that national integration between East and West Malaysia has still got a lot of work to do.

This is shown by the recent announcement by Works Minister Datuk Samy Vellu that the Federal government will bring forward the implementation of 30 government projects valued at RM 2.4 billion that were planned for the 9th Malaysian Plan (2006-2010) next year. This is the Federal government’s belated efforts after repeated criticisms by the DAP to help the construction industry which suffered negative growth rate of 1.9% in 2004. 

As the largest state in Malaysia, Sarawak was only given a RM 55 million road project. Only two states have smaller projects namely, Melaka with RM 30 million and Perlis with RM 43 million. Why is the largest state given the third smallest public works project? Or perhaps the construction sector is not facing problems in Sarawak? The Federal Government has to do more for Sarawak.

Our DAP Kuching MP Sdr Chong Chien Jen has given a sterling performance in Parliament being the voice of conscience of Sarawakians – that no other BN MP dares to speak in Parliament. He has been your lone voice in Parliament that the Federal Government has not done enough for Sarawakians and must do more.

However one MP or one assemblyman such as Kidurong ADUN Chiew Chiu Sing can only do so much. We need the support of all Sarawakians to vote more DAP elected representatives to ask the BN government to do more for Sarawak not as Sarawakians but because we are all Malaysians.


*  Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General