Dr Sim for DCM? SUPP electoral gains have led to calls for its president to be given a post of deputy chief minister
KUCHING (December 21): The significantly improved performance of the United People’s Party of Sarawak (SUPP) in the just concluded 12th state election has sparked discussions that the party would be ‘rewarded’ with a post of Deputy Chief Minister (DCM).
The SUPP won 13 of the 18 seats allocated to the party under the Gabungan Party Sarawak (GPS), nearly doubling the number of seats won five years ago.
The party reclaimed six seats namely Opar, Kota Sentosa, Bukit Assek, Pelawan, Tanjong Batu and Pujut, while successfully retaining Batu Kawa, Batu Kitang, Simanggang, Repok, Meradong, Piasau and Senadin.
History indicates that deputy chief ministers representing the Chinese community were appointed from the former SUPP presidents. The last appointed to this post was Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan from 1996 to 2011.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said at the Batu Kawa Riverbank Park launch on November 8 that the Sarawak government should have strong Chinese representation after the state elections. SUPP President Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian was also present at the event, which successfully defended its seat in Batu Kawah with an overwhelming majority on December 18.
Dr Sim himself is the son of the late Tan Sri Datuk Amar Sim Kheng Hong, another former head of SUPP, who was Deputy Chief Minister from 1974 to 1991.
Abang Johari, who was sworn in as chief minister again on the night of December 18, has yet to reveal his new ministerial makeup, although an announcement is expected shortly.
Discussions of a DCM article returning to the Chinese community after 10 years have thrilled community members following the SUPP’s gains in the recent election.
Sarawak Federation of Chinese Associations (SFCA) chairman Dato Richard Wee, when asked for his opinion, said that although the Chinese in Sarawak have hope for the DCM position.
He pointed out that the latest cabinet roster showed three DCM positions, two of which were from the Iban community and one was from the Malay community. He noted that a DCM post is now vacant following the death of Tan Sri Datuk Amar, Dr James Masing, just before the elections.
“The SUPP did well in the state elections which have just ended. We therefore hope that a representative of the Chinese community will be considered for one of the DCM positions. This will at least reflect the racial makeup of the state within the cabinet.
“We hope for the best. But the appointment is the prerogative of the chief minister, and we respect his decision, ”Wee added.
Wee, who is also chairman of the Federation of China Associations for Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Divisions, also commented on how the new cabinet will be composed.
“We are looking forward to seeing a team which is the Abang Jo team. This is the time when he can form a team to move forward and realize and realize the aspirations of the state as mentioned in the manifesto (GPS).
“Probably he will assign different ministries for this purpose,” he said.
Before the elections, there were three DCMs, namely Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, the late Masing and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah, and 13 ministries.