SUPP (soap) opera in sibu


By Martin Jalleh

The Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), Sarawak’s oldest political party, knows that it would be in real political hot “supp” (soup) if it loses in the coming by-election in Sibu.

The PM who recently received a slap in the face by the Chinese community in Hulu Selangor will have to turn the other cheek if the Chinese who are the majority in the Sibu constituency fail to support SUPP.

This helps to explain why the second coming of Najib (to Sibu) which just took place was so necessary. The PM descended on Sibu like a savior determined to deliver its citizens from the evil Opposition by offering the Chinese a slew of expensive gifts.

You do not need to make an educated guess why Najib presented the Chinese educationists and others allocations totaling RM18 million. Though it was not a very educated thought, many outside Sibu could not help but wish that the days of their own MPs on earth would be few so that they too can enjoy the PM’s saving grace.

The PM’s message was very simple: “You help me, I help you” or to be more accurate: “You help me, I will help you by giving you back your money!” In other words: “Please help me to bribe you with your own money!”

He also said: “”It won’t cost you anything to give us what we want. We will do what we should to give you what you want. And you know what I want.” It was yet another example of “education being ‘prostitutionalised’ in the name of political gains” (Dr Azly Rahman). But in the BN where there is political gain, there is no shame!

Many in the audience were close to tears when they heard Najib’s motherly plea: “As prime minister, I want to deliver. And trust me, I shall definitely deliver (to the people of Sibu)!” For so long the Federal Government has treated East Malaysia as though it is not their baby. Will it abandon Sibu after Najib’s delivery?

Najib even starts his buy-election sojourn on a spiritual note by witnessing a procession (albeit only three minutes) which was held in honour of Tua Pek Kong, one of the major Chinese deities worshipped in Bolehland. The gods are watching, PM, but then Najib has gained deity status close to the God of Prosperity after giving away RM18 million.


Coming back to SUPP, with its very own political survival at stake, the party is bent on SUPPlanting (supplanting) the DAP’s growing popularity and scudding the soaring rocket! It has decided to follow Umno’s style of scare tactics, saber-rattling tricks and sinister theatrics.

It resurrects a silly and archaic ploy which even the MCA has shelved. In order to achieve their strange “Don’t want change: Want Reform” objective, SUPP employs the BN mantra “One vote for DAP is one vote for PAS and an Islamic State”. Ironically its candidate Robert Lau Jr proudly professes: “I belong to the new generation”!

Why does SUPP not wait close to polling day to bring out its secret “killer weapon”? According to Lim Kit Siang it is because SUPP strategists are panicking. One can only laugh as one traces the steps that lead to SUPP’s desperate efforts to SUPPvert (subvert) the DAP/PR campaign.

Sensing the sentiments of the predominantly Christian population in Sibu, DAP candidate Wong Ho Leng from the very start of his campaign revealed that one of his key issues which he would seek to address and try to solve if elected would be the ban on non-Muslims’ use of the word “Allah” by the BN government.

On 7 May, DAP leaders in Sibu held a closed-door dialogue with some 60 church officials from the constituency on issues such as the Allah ban, the printing and distribution of the Al-Kitab, and the impounding of bibles from Indonesia by the Customs Department.

There were church leaders who still remained unconvinced with the government’s assurance that Christians in Sabah and Sarawak would be still be allowed to use the word “Allah”. This is understandable considering that the assurance came from Nazri Aziz (see “Martin Jalleh, Nazri Aziz – the Minister of Lies” on Google).

Only common sense would suffice for one to come to a simple conclusion that the “solution” to the Allah issue by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department is sheer stupidity! Can we have separate rules for Semenanjung and Sabah/Sarawak? It will reduce 1Malaysia further to one big joke!

Wong asked Robert Lau to make a stand on the Allah ban. Lau kept silent for a while and then sneered at Pakatan leaders for bringing ‘national issues’ into the by-election. The councilor of the Sibu Municipal Council must have forgotten he was campaigning to be a Member of Parliament!

Lau continued to sidestep the issue by sermonizing on religion being a personal thing (then why deprive the Christians of their personal right to worship God in the language they choose to?) and that the Allah row should not be brought into the campaign to avoid mixing politics and religion.

“Religion is personal relationship between yourself and God, let us not politicise that…Politics deals with human, social issue not so much about divinity… We don’t politicise religion, this has not happened in Sibu. Religion is divinity, politics is humanity.”

Alas, Lau makes a “lausy” (lousy) and lame Christian with his narrow, nebulous and naïve definition of religion. Whilst there are personal dimensions of faith, there are also social dimensions that require Christian believers to live and take their faith into the public and political arena.


Having failed to preach and promote their pietism, personalized salvation and faith being a purely private affair Lau and his cohorts resorted to pathetic attempts to portray the DAP and its partnership with PAS in a poor light, thereby contradicting themselves and stumbling over each other’s statements.

SUPP Sibu publicity secretary Daniel Ngieng who dramatically told the Opposition to “please leave religion out of politics” and not to try to apply “peninsula politics to poison Sarawak” contradicted himself by religiously challenging the DAP to either declare their support for (peninsula-based) PAS and their dreams of an Islamic state or leave the Pakatan Rakyat!

Lau, who very ironically and proudly claimed that “I’m my own man” and “we cannot just harp on old issues” jumped on Ngieng’s bandwagon and parroted SUPP Sibu chief Wong Soon Koh’s declaration that a vote for Rocket and DAP/PR candidate is a vote for PAS and an Islamic State – which is not only an old issue but a non-issue!

SUPP president George Chan fell into his own trap when he accused the DAP and PR of playing a “very dangerous” game by mixing religion with politics. When questioned about SUPP’s campaign tactic in equating a vote for DAP with a vote for PAS and its vision of an Islamic state, he sidestepped the issue saying “it is unrelated”!

“We are not discussing a religious issue, we are just saying that we don’t want PAS or an Islamic state,” Chan continued to crow, clown and crap. What about the Islamic State which Najib had declared on 17 July 2007? It is an Islamic State which non-Muslims do not feel very safe in whether alive or dead!

Will Chan challenge the PM to state that Malaysia is a secular, and not an Islamic, state or will he continue to lead SUPP in supine and servile submission to Najib and Umno?

The truth be told, there is really no need to fear PAS. Many Christians (Catholics in particular) in Shah Alam voted for the PAS candidate Khalid Samad, who was overwhelming acknowledged when he visited the Church of the Divine Mercy in his constituency to thank the Catholics there for their support!

Further, PAS’ stance on the Allah issue has been clear, consistent and courageous. No party has engaged in inter-faith dialogue with the Christians as much as PAS. MP for Parit Buntar and PAS National Unity Committee chairman Dr. Mujahid Yusuf Rawa for example spoke to capacity crowds in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit (Penang), the Church of the Immaculate Conception (Penang), the Church of the Nativity (Butterworth), Church of St Anne (Bukit Mertajam) and St Louis Church (Taiping).

The PAS/PR paranoia which SUPP is desperately promoting becomes even more preposterous when one considers the fact that in the Bukit Gantang by-election last year, 85% of the Chinese voters in Kuala Sepetang voted for the PAS candidate Nizar Jamaluddin and in the recent Hulu Selangor by-election, 82.5% of the Chinese voters in Rasa voted in support of the PR candidate.

Could it be that SUPP’s soap opera is also a desperate way to deflect the attention of the rakyat in Sibu from the party’s internal bickering and infighting caused by factors such as the discontent of its Bidayuh members, problems related to the Engkilili and Dudong branch and the Lau Hieng Ding controversy which resulted in the Foochow community wanting to overthrow Chan?

It will only be a matter of time when the public discovers the reality of SUPP’s supposed unity. Will the people of Sibu “sup with the devil”? The SUPP (soap) opera continues for a few more days with the Police playing a SUPPortive (supportive) role!

(13 May 2010)

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