The voices of the Bidayuhs in SUPP are growing louder by the day. They are cries of discontentment and their demands are getting more ferocious.
In recent weeks, Bidayuh leaders have petitioned the party to consider its Bengoh state assemblyman, Dr Jerip Susil, to fill the vacant post of chairman of the Padawan Municipal Council.
But that is not likely to happen. The party's former assistant minister, Alfred Yap, is said to be keen to return to his former seat in the council. Yap was defeated in the 2006 state election and has been without a position since then. He was also a former chairman of the council.
The council's top spot was vacated by Tan Joo Phoi who was recently appointed an assistant minister.
Today, several Bidayuh leaders want the Serian MP, Richard Riot (also from SUPP), to take over the federal deputy minister's post from the late Robert Lau Hoi Chew. The Bandar Sibu MP died last Friday after a long battle with cancer.
"We want SUPP leaders to recognise the sacrifices and services rendered by Richard Riot to the party," said Frederick Bayoi Manggie, the state assemblyman for Kedup.
Kedup is one of the state seats under the Serian parliamentary constituency. The other is the Tebedu seat which is held by Michael Manyin, the state minister of infrastructure development. Both Bayoi and Manyin are from PBB.
Won Serian five times
Contacted by the Malaysian Mirror, Bayoi said: "The people of Kedup want Richard to be made a deputy minister to represent the Bidayuh community from SUPP. He deserves to be appointed after helping SUPP to win Serian for the fifth time and he is very hard working.
"I hope the prime minister will listen to the voices of the Bidayuh people who want Riot to be included in the Federal cabinet," Bayoi added.
Apart from Riot, there are two other Bidayuh MPs, Mambong's Dr James Dawos Mamit of PBB and the MP for Mas Gading, Dr Tiki Lafe of SPDP.
Dawos was recently appointed deputy tourism minister replacing Sulaiman Taib who resigned due to health reasons.
The Malaysian Mirror reliably learnt that a group of supporters from Serian SUPP was supposed to hold a press conference at 4 pm yesterday at the SUPP headquarters in Kuching to throw their support behind their MP, Richard Riot, to fill the deputy minister's post.
At the last minute, the drama was called off when top party leaders intervened.
Next most senior MP
When contacted, Riot who was attending the parliamentary session in Kuala Lumpur has this to say, "I am the next most senior MP. I have stood and won five times in Serian and does not hold any ministerial position. It is the prerogative of the party president and the chief minister to recommend me. The final decision is with the prime minister," he said.
Another Bidayuh leader and former president of the Dayak Bidayuh National Association, Peter Minos, wanted SUPP to recommend Riot to fill the vacant post in order to prove its claim that it is a multi-racial party.
He said SUPP cannot claim itself to be a multi-racial party if it only nominates Chinese assemblymen and MPs to hold ministerial and other government posts.
"If SUPP is truly a multi-racial party then there is no reason for them not to give at least one of the two vacant posts to the Bidayuh," Minos said, referring to the other vacant post of the chairmanship of Padawan Municipal Council.
Minos said he does not expect the two posts to be given to the community as that would be unfair to SUPP and other communities; but felt that the community should be given one post.
Early this month, Minos warned SUPP of the consequences if it failed to appoint a Bidayuh to be the PMC chairman or else the party would lose two Bidayuh majority seats currently held by the party in the coming election.
"This is a warning of the consequences, but not a threat." he had said.
Other Bidayuh leaders from SUPP such as Louis Gines and Granda Aing of Sarawak PKR have also made similar calls to SUPP.
Tiong also in the running
Sources from SUPP said that Richard Riot is one of the names submitted for consideration by the party's central working committee which will meet this weekend.
The other is Tiong Thai King, the Lanang MP. The Malaysian Mirror understands that SUPP Sibu branch has recommended Tiong for the vacant federal position.
Tiong, the younger brother of one of Malaysia's richest men and media baron Tiong Hiew King, is also the chairman of the Sibu Municipal Council. He was said to be a reluctant politician and for the most part of his political career, he has shied away from the press.
SUPP's traditional quota in the Federal Cabinet since the days of Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been one full ministerial post and two deputy ministers. Peter Chin Fah Kui is currently a full minister while Yong Khoon Seng is a deputy.
SUPP was founded as a multi-racial party in 1959 but its rural support base had been severely eroded in later years. Today, its strength lies in the urban centres and most of the party leaders appointed to public positions are Chinese.
However, the party still managed to hold on to several semi-rural seats such as Serian, Bengoh, Dudong and Engkilili.
courtesy of Malaysian Mirror