By Joseph Tawie
KUCHING: Local Barisan Nasional-associated parties here are expecting peninsula-based People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to provide them with “good laughs” during the 13th general election.
Dismissing the party’s aspiration to contest parliamentary seats in Sarawak, Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s party Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) said at best PPP president M Kayveas would be a “political joker”.
“In the United Kingdom, PPP would be called political jokers, a party good only for amusing others and making fun of itself, but with nobody respecting it, much less voting for it,” said PBB deputy information chief Peter Minos.
He added that “political jokers can make fun of themselves, providing a good laugh to all”.
“PPP seems unable or unwilling to see the difference and reality. Let PPP be the joker party that it is.”
Kayveas’ decision to field candidates in some of the Chinese majority parliamentary seats in Sarawak has irked several Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders here.
Many have poured scorned on his bid.
Although Taib himself is nonchalant saying “it is all part of democracy and if the people accept PPP then so be it”, his lieutenants, however, are full of ridicule at the idea.
Said a senior PBB vice-president Awang Tengah Ali Hassan: “It’s best PPP emulate Umno and not spread its wings to Sarawak.
“It should concentrate on its own backyard in the peninsula and focus on trying to win all its seats,” he said.
Awang Tengah’s comment, however, contradicts earlier reports which noted that Umno had already set up base in Sarawak in the run-up to the state election on April 16.
Kayveas last week declared that his party would be fielding independent candidates in the coming national polls if the state BN continues to reject PPP.
“We will be targeting opposition seats, which are traditionally won by the opposition and which BN finds difficult to win,” he said, adding that the party had more than 50,000 members in the state.
“Fifty percent of these members are Chinese, while Ibans and Bidayuhs make up 45%. The rest are Malays,” Kayveas said.
The difficult seats are traditionally contested by Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) such as Bandar Kuching, Stampin, Sarikei, Sibu, Lanang and Miri.
SUPP which, until the April 16 state election, was the second largest party in the Sarawak BN lost 13 of its 19 state seats to the opposition.
Some of these seats were in the parliamentary constituencies eyed by Kayveas.
But SUPP deputy secretary-general Wong Soon Koh has dismissed PPP’s alleged “strength”, saying that the latter cannot compare itself with SUPP when it comes to looking after the interest of the Chinese community.
“PPP is a new party and from outside Sarawak. I am not sure about its claim that 50% of the 50,000 members in Sarawak are Chinese.
“Even if that is true, they (PPP) cannot compare themselves with us or to what we have done for the Chinese in Sarawak,” he said.
Kayveas’ disclosure jolted local leaders here, who are acutely aware of the political situation in Sabah, where peninsula-based Umno and now Gerakan and MCA have sidelined local parties.
Besides Umno, Gerakan and MCA are expected to be vying for seats in the next general election.
In the latest Sabah Cabinet reshuffle, BN’s traditional partner Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was sidelined in favour of two leaders from the Chinese community.
Both Peter Pang and Raymon Tan were formerly from LDP and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP). SAPP was once in the BN coalition. It quit the BN in 2008.
Both are now Gerakan members.
Sarawak does not need losers
Meanwhile, Minos said that Sarawak does not need PPP which is another “loser” party that cannot hold its own in the peninsula.
“For PPP to disturb BN Sarawak is a big joke. PP has repeatedly lost elections. If it is not wanted in the peninsula, why make empty noises in Sarawak?
“Better go and fly kite. Don’t kid yourself by wooing unwilling people of Sarawak,” Minos said, alluding to PPP’s losses in the 2008 general election.
In the last general election, Kayveas lost in the Taiping parliamentary seat and compatriot Lee Heng in the Pasir Berdamar state seat. Both seats were won by DAP.
Speculations are rife in Kuala Lumpur that PPP will not be allocated any seats in the coming polls.
Apparently Umno wants both Taiping and Pasir Berdamar back and is not prepared to take any chances with any of its BN allies. MIC and MCA are also expected to face similar challenges.
In Sarawak, Taib’s chief political secretary, Abdul Karim Hamzah, has reminded PPP of the BN spirit.
“If the party has the BN spirit in mind, it would not come to Sarawak. We have too many local parties here and any addition is just excess baggage.
“PPP should just focus on the peninsula… after all this where the party’s struggle originated,” said Abdul Karim, the Asajaya assemblyman. – FMT