Mist over Batu Kitang – will it be Dr Sim or someone else?

ELECTION TALK: The new seat of Batu Kitang will go to Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP). The simple reason is that none of the other BN component parties, be it Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) or Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) want to claim to this Chinese majority seat.

However, who actually will represent SUPP for this seat in the coming state election is still undecided.

SUPP has already named three candidates to represent BN in Kuching's six urban seats – Milton Foo (Pending), Sih Hua Tong (Batu Lintang) and Wilfred Yap (Sentosa). Three other seats are still undecided, while three names – Dr Sim Kui Hian, Lo Khere Chiang, Tan Joo Phoi – have been proposed for the two seats of Batu Kawah and Batu Kitang.

Among all the six urban seats, Batu Kitang is considered the best bet for SUPP to have a real chance of winning against the opposition, considering its large percentage of Bumiputera voters (approximately 45 percent) who traditionally would vote for the BN.

The problem with Batu Kitang is not a matter of party internal tussle. After all, right from the very beginning, SUPP members have been giving their unanimous support for the president to go for Batu Kitang. No other SUPP aspiring candidate will challenge him for the seat. It is all for Sim to take it. Unless he does not want it.

It is more a matter of principle and personal integrity. Sim is asking himself: As the party president, is it right for me to go for Batu Kitang after losing badly to DAP's Violet Yong in Pending in the last election? Am I running away from the all-Chinese voters?

In a local news report recently, SUPP Kuching chairman Lily Yong who is a former assemblywoman for Padungan, suggested that the party president should take the challenge in a tough seat like Padungan in order to gauge Chinese support towards the BN rather than choosing a safe seat in a semi-rural area like Batu Kitang.

Yes, Lily has her point but her idea might be too idealistic for political strategy.

Another school of thought which is more pragmatic wants their president to go for Batu Kitang, which offers the best chance for him to book a ticket into the Dewan Undangan Negeri.

On being elected, Sim would have a good chance of being made a minister in Adenan's Cabinet and if SUPP performs credibly in this election, he could even fill the shoes of Dr George Chan who was the deputy chief minister from 1996 to 2011.

Why should he take the risk in Padungan? After all, politics is about winning elections and taking part in the administration of the government.

If winning elections is not the ultimate aim of a political party, SUPP might as well leave the political scene and convert itself into a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

Hence, it is very likely that Sim will contest in Batu Kitang, leaving Batu Kawah SUPP chairman Tan Joo Phoi and Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) chairman Lo Khere Chiang to negotiate between themselves for Batu Kawah. Under such circumstances, it is very likely that Tan will give way to his younger comrade for his first taste of battle.

Meanwhile in Padungan, Kuching City South (MBKS) Mayor James Chan's name has often been mentioned as a possible SUPP candidate. Chan is a hardworking and popular mayor but it is unlikely that he will take the challenge in Padungan. In case he decides to join in the fray at the last minute, Peter Pui or Peter Pau might have to give way to him.

In an unlikely scenario that Sim might decide to take the challenge in Padungan, both Tan and Lo would have a toss up between Batu Kawah and Batu Kitang. Businessman Peter Pui or Peter Pau would then have to bow out in Padungan. -THE ANT DAILY

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