From Sibu with the Winds of Change
SIBU: With a day to go, DAP candidate Wong Ho Leng, 51, is euphoric as he can “now see the dream”.
The sweltering heat in Sibu is fuelling fumes of change across the constituency. After 24-long years, the DAP may very well be the closest ever to win on May 16.
“It’s different this time… very different, I can feel the mood… I can see the dream,” said a grinning Wong, raising his voice above the din at last night’s gathering of over 3,000 listeners at Rejang Park.
This is Wong’s fourth attempt at the Sibu parliamentary seat.
In his last outing, he lost to the late Sibu MP Robert Lau by 3,323 votes in a three-cornered fight.
The odds are building up for Wong and ironically, upping his chances at the ballot box, was PKR Wangsa Maju’s Wee Choo Keong’s exit from the party yesterday.
Said a PKR insider last night: “This (Wee’s exit) will backfire at the ballot box. It is stupid timing… typical BN-style tactic. This is not Hulu Selangor or the Malays.
“You cannot intimidate the Chinese here. They are excited at meeting the steady stream of DAP leaders. They are seeing the effect of their collective might. It has put LGE (Lim Guang Eng) on an equal footing with other Malay ministers and Chief Minister Taib (Mahmud).
“It is a very powerful feeling… They are conscious of their collective strength now, especially after 2008. They like what they see… the knowledge and humiliaty in Guan Eng, (Lim) Kit Siang, Karpal Singh, Anwar Ibrahim. It’s all strong and credible.
“It’s not about money anymore. It’s now integrity, which BN is very short on,” he said.
Before Wong took to the stage, Guan Eng had roused the crowd with his appeal for one more MP in Parliament now that Wee had quit.
“Vote for principled politics, not commercial politics…,” he said in reference to the “frogs” in PKR who had jumped to Umno.
Meanwhile, the constant barrage of visiting federal officials is irritating residents in longhouses in Bawang Assan and Penusu.
Forced to fete and feed them, the residents are beginning to grumble.
A PKR team, which visited them yesterday, said the tuai (chief), many of whom are retired teachers and civil servants, are unhappy.
“There’s just too much feasting and protocol when the BN delegations come calling. They bring food and ask them to cook and fete the ministers.
“The Ibans are tired and fed up,” he said, adding that the mood in the longhouses is also shifting.
“The DAP has never ever stepped foot in some of these longhouses. The Pakatan strategy has allowed each party to focus on one group.
“That is good. We have put our PKR people in every longhouse. The BN has also come in but we are playing low key.
“We are confident that we now have some of the tuai rumahs on our side. They are educated pensioners who can understand our concerns.
“We feel we have about 25% of their votes,” said the official who was part of the team led by party leader Daniel Tajem.
Also on yesterday’s team were leading native customary rights land lawyers Baru Bian and Paul Raja.
Published: Saturday May 15, 2010 MYT 2:50:00 PM
EC expects 80% voter turnout on Sunday
SIBU: The Election Commission (EC) expects 80% of the 54,695 registered voters in the Sibu parliamentary constituency to turn up and cast their votes Sunday.
Its chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd.Yusof said the polling for the by-election would begin at 8am and end at 5pm.
“In the 2008 general election, the turnout was 68% out of 53,679 registered voters.
“The weatherman has forecast fine weather. But please turn up early to vote in case it rains in the afternoon,” he told a media conference at the EC’s by-election operations centre at the Civic Centre here Saturday.
Abdul Aziz said of the 45 polling stations that would be opened to enable the electorate to cast their votes, 10 would close at 1pm, five at 2pm, six at 3pm, two at 4pm and 22 at 5pm.
He said the polling station with the highest number of voters, at 3,484, was at the Rajang Park Kindergerten near here.
“The smallest is at SJK(C) Kai Nang in Seberang Ensurai, Batang Rajang, about an one hour’s journey from here with only 42 voters.
“The furthest is at SK Sungai Rassau with over 400 voters. Our workers will leave for the place this afternoon by boat,” he said.
He said all 110 ballot boxes would be taken to the tallying centre at the Civic Centre immediately after polling closed.
“We expect to announce the result at the latest by 9pm,” he said.
He said those who wanted to check their polling stations can do so at the EC’s website at http://www.spr.gov.my or via SMS by texting SPR SEMAK IC NUMBER and sending to 15888.
Meanwhile, Abdul Aziz who just returned from England to monitor the general election there, said unlike in Malaysia, its election workers had to work from 7am to 10pm because some voters decided to turn up at the last minute. – Bernama
By Pushparani Thilaganathan and B Nantha Kumar
SIBU: Sibu’s independent candidate, Narawi Haron, is in all probability the least ever flogged candidate in Sarawak’s political history.
It took us the better part of a day and an expensive taxi charter to pin him down at his wife’s kuih stall some 50km away on the outskirts of Sibu.Believe it or not, Narawi, 60, an ex-servicemen, has not dropped out of the race, despite speculations that he would if the offer was right.
“There was an offer… I am not interested. This is not about money. I love politics. My bloodline is politics, “ he said referring to his mother who was an active member of the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) in her youth.
Narawi is articulate and extremely proud of his lineage.
A father of six and grandfather, he is also related to the famed Sarawakian nationalist, Rosli Dhoby.
Rosli was a leader of the Rukun 13 organisation during British-ruled Sarawak. Rukun 13 was a secret cell organisation which carried out assassinations of British colonial officers in Sarawak.
Rosli’s assassination of Sarawak’s second British governor Sir Duncan George Stewart, in 1948, made him a martyr.
Although legally a juvenile – he was 17– Rosli was sentenced to death for murder in 1949. The death sentence was nonetheless a political statement.
For Narawi, contesting the Sibu parliamentary seat is his political statement, much to the exasperation of the SUPP. The SUPP has described him as “an irritant”, especially in the Malay/Melanau constituency of Nangka which holds some 5,470 votes.
SUPP-Barisan Nasional has often described the Malay/Melanau community in Nangka as its “fixed deposit” along with the Sarawak Bumiputeras, despite the fact that Pakatan Rakyat coalition member PAS has been chipping away at that bank.
Said Narawi: “I am not interested in the bigger fight. Let the big boys (DAP and SUPP) fight that one. I just want to see how much support I can garner in the Nangka constituency.
“I am aiming to contest in the state election for Nangka. This by-election came earlier so I am trying.
“If I get more than 1,000 votes… then I will be back for the state election.”
Narawi is driven by a desire to live a meaningful life. He is passionate about putting things right in the social system.
“When I retired they promised me land and house. It’s 32 years and I still have nothing.
“You can see how poor the Malays are… When I talk to my friends, they are all still eking out a living and are unhappy.
“Things have not changed since the British colonial times. We just changed masters…” he said.
Throughout the search for Narawi – that took us from Sibu town centre to Kampung Bandung, Pekan Nangka, Kampung Hilir, Sungai Merah, and further into the outskirts – there was not a single banner, poster or flyer of him.
“I don’t need all that… people know me,” was his simple statement when asked about publicity materials.
When we first started searching for Narawi in Nangka, we were told to find him “under a big tree near the mosque. He is always talking there”.
When we got to the mosque, he had left.
Thus began our chase for this elusive candidate, who, come polling day tomorrow, will walk away with some of BN’s much-needed Malay/Melanau votes
In 1995, Narawi secured 975 votes, in 2006 he stepped away after filing in his nomination to allow for a straight fight between SUPP and his cousin in PKR.
“Now I am back. I will secure more than before. .. that I am sure of,” said Narawi.