KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has set the record straight, that his policy has always been one of reconciliation ever since Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) was plagued by infighting.
In response to Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh’s recent remarks, Abang Johari said after the 2011 state polls, SUPP had a leadership crisis resulting in it splitting into two factions, but the Barisan Nasional (BN) leadership then decided that the problem should be solved amicably as it was not the policy of Sarawak BN to interfere in the internal problems of component parties.
“Datuk Seri Wong and his group were sacked by SUPP but he was retained in the government as the leadership wanted inclusivity and unity among the Chinese, and participation in the government,” he said in a statement on Tuesday (Sept 8).
He said the problem then dragged on until the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem took over as Chief Minister.
“The fact that in the last general election, Wong’s group was allowed to use the BN symbol, this speaks volumes of the desire of the leadership to continue with the effort to unite the Chinese and enable participation in the government.”
Abang Johari said SUPP was almost deregistered when Wong, after being sacked by SUPP, formed United People’s Party (UPP) and subsequently, the government that was formed was known as BN-Plus with the hope that the two factions could work together for the good of the Chinese community.
“In fact, it was the late Adenan who directed me to officiate the launching of UPP. Later, I officiated the change of name from UPP to PSB.
“When I took over as Chief Minister, I continued with this policy where Wong was retained as a minister. All these were meant to give time for the two factions to reconcile.”
Unfortunately, Abang Johari said intentionally or otherwise, the PSB leadership roped in members of the component parties of GPS knowing fully well that this would jeopardise the teamwork.
“GPS has a policy of ‘you touch one, you touch all’ and PSB’s action is against our effort to unite Sarawakians.”
He then said based on the latest activities of PSB, it was evident that the party was against GPS with further inclusion of disgruntled members of other parties.
“I have requested leaders of the community as well as corporate leaders to help in the reconciliation but to no avail, and the rest I will leave it to the public to judge.”
Abang Johari, who is also GPS chairman, had mentioned a ‘problematic’ party at Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu’s northern region mini convention in Miri last Saturday.
Although he did not name the party, to Wong, the Chief Minister was clearly referring to PSB.
Wong then said in spite of the criticism, Abang Johari had played an important role in the party’s formation.