KUCHING: Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak has told leaders of Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) to give him “winnable candidates” ahead of state elections expected in the next few months.
“Don’t give me people (candidates) because of their standing in the party.
“I want names that can win,”he told them at SUPP’s special convention at the Borneo convention centre here yesterday.
Najib said he could use his veto powers to strike out names “not accepted by the people and therefore, have no chance of winning”.
“What is the point of givingme candidates if they cannot win? I don’t care if they are young or old. Just don’t giveme people because of party considerations.
I don’t want names because they are important to the party.
“This is an important principle because we want the candidates to win so we continue to form the government.
“He must be accepted by the majority of the people where he is contesting.” The Chinese-based party traditionally picks candidates based on their party positions.
The party lost eight seats in the last state election in 2006, a majority of which were in and around here.
Among the losers were party secretarygeneral Datuk Sim Kheng Hui in Pending, publicity and information secretary Datuk Alfred Yap (Kota Sentosa), former women chief and now vice-president Datuk Lily Yong (Padungan), and assistant treasurer Chan Seng Khai (Batu Lintang). There is talk in the party that the four are seeking re-election.
Najib also wanted SUPP to “engage the people and understand what they want”.
Political pundits said one of the reasons identified by BN for its reversal of fortune in the 2006 election was its failure to explain government policies on the oil price hike and land premium.
The partly also failed to engage young voters.
“Feel the pulse of the people and fight for their interest,” Najib told them.
He added that BN leaders would give them the support in their engagement as long as they made sensible requests.
Present were Sarawak BN chairman Tan Sri Taib Mahmud and SUPP president Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam.
Rallying the SUPP leaders and members, Naib related his experience of retaining his Pekan parliamentary seat by a majority of 264 in 1999. He did not give up and managed to obtain the highest majority of 26,464 in the last general election.
Najib also acknowledged tactical weaknesses in the Sibu by-election.
Najib stressed that he would give every ounce of his energy to do what was good for Malaysia, including Sarawak.
Citing the Bakun Dam project as an example, the prime minister said even during the economic downturn, the government injected RM9 million to ensure the project went ahead.
“This is the understanding and rapport that we have (between the Federal and state governments),” said Najib.
Taib, who is chief minister, said other component parties of BN would continue to support SUPP because the party was part of efforts to build a prosperous Sarawak.
Source : New Straits Times