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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sarawak ‘shields’ balance

Taib’s team delivers biggest number of seats to BN; Bandar Kuching remains with DAP

SARAWAK last night proved that it is the bastion of the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the country with the state coalition chairman and Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud as the defender of the ‘dacing’.

The coalition conceded only one out of the 31 seats contested to the opposition pending the results from Hulu Rajang as 221 voters in three polling stations there will cast their votes today.
It is believed that after the last available ballot box in Hulu Rajang was counted last night, the BN candidate, Billy Abit Joo, was ahead of his opponent by some 2,000 votes.
The only seat that the BN lost was Bandar Kuching.

Despite the BN’s best efforts, it could not unseat the Democratic Action Party’s (DAP) Chong Chieng Jen, who had instead managed to increase his majority.

Taib, in a brief radio message aired from his residence, Demak Jaya, at almost midnight expressed his gratitude to voters in Sarawak for giving the coalition a strong mandate.

“I would like to thank the rakyat in Sarawak who have given such huge victory to BN in this election.

“I believe the BN will be able to form the government again and I pray that the government that will be formed will run smoothly.

“We in Sarawak will certainly give the victories that we have secured to the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) as our show of support to him,” he added.
The BN had secured five seats uncontested in Sarawak.

The new unopposed MPs are Norah Tun Abdul Rahman (Tanjong Manis), Aaron Ago Dagang (Kanowit), Joseph Entulu Belaun (Selangau), Alexander Nanta Linggi (Kapit) and Datuk Wahab Dolah (Igan).

It was, by and large, a night of mixed-emotions for BN leaders not only in the state but the country as a whole.

Although the BN pulled through and even increased Sarawak’s representation in parliament last night, it was not without drama.

Despite the coalition’s best efforts, it could not recapture Bandar Kuching.
The BN had given the trust to new face, Alan Sim, the Youth chief of the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), to take down Chong.

However, Sim, who knew right from the start that he was facing an uphill battle, could manage only 12,949 votes, losing to Chong by a margin of 9,952 votes.

The total votes cast in Bandar Kuching were 36,092 from a turnout of 68.13 per cent.
In Sarikei, Sarawak saw the only five-cornered fight this election.

The BN candidate, Ding Kuong Hing, another new face from SUPP, scrapped through with a majority of only 51 votes - the smallest majority ever recorded in a parliamentary election in Sarawak.

Ding polled 10,588 votes, while DAP’s Dr Wong Hua Seh polled 10,537 votes.
The other three independent candidates in the race, Lau Kieng Chai, Kung Chin Chin and Ngu Tieng Hai, all lost their deposits.

Except for Bandar Kuching, SUPP has delivered its other six seats - equalling its performance in the 2004 election though with a lower majority for some of its incumbents.
Besides Ding, the BN’s other new faces also won.

They are Dato Sri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib in Kota Samarahan, Nancy Shukri (Batang Sadong), Ahmad Lai Bujang (Sibuti), Hasbi Habibollah (Limbang), Masir Kujat (Sri Aman) and William Nyallau Badak (Lubok Antu).

Sulaiman, a Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Youth vice-chief is taking over where his father Taib has left off and he is doing it in style.

Sulaiman secured 15,559 votes to win with a majority of 11,411 votes.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) Hussain Abang Apok only managed to garner 4,148 votes; while independent candidate Awang Bakar Awang Daud lost his election deposit after receiving 898 votes.

Kota Samarahan also recorded the highest voter turnout at 75.14 per cent out of 28,517 voters.
The longest serving MP from Sarawak is also from PBB.

Dato Sri Muhammad Leo Michael Toyad was returned for a seventh term as the Mukah MP.
He garnered 10,090 votes; defeating independent candidate Hai Nerawin with a margin of 6,298 votes.

All in all, PBB of which Taib is president, has again shown why it is the state BN’s backbone party as it delivered all the seats it contested in.

In Batang Lupar, PBB Women vice-chief Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim soundly defeated Parti Islam Se-Malaysia’s (PAS) sole candidate in Sarawak, Abang Eddy Allyanni Abang Fauzi.
She garnered 11,015 votes to beat Eddy and independent candidate Ali Semsu with a majority of 8,092 votes.

Ali also lost his election deposit.

A total of nine candidates lost their election deposit last night.

Masir and Nyallau meanwhile have given Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) plenty of reason to celebrate.

It is quite possible that PRS, which has yet to fully recover from its internal leadership crisis, will win with a clean sweep.

Masir polled 9,700 votes to defeat independent candidate Cobbold Lusoi by a margin of 4,252 votes; while Nyallau secured 6,769 votes to win with a majority of 1,610 against independent candidate Nicholas Bawin Anggat.

The only PRS seat still not accounted for is Hulu Rajang, where Billy is facing a former PRS colleague, George Lagong, who is contesting as an independent candidate.

As for the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP), it has continued its clean sweep of four seats for the second election.

Its treasurer-general Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing delivered Bintulu to the BN with the biggest majority in Sarawak at 14,965 votes.

Tiong secured 23,291 votes, while DAP’s Lim Su Kien only managed 8,663 votes.

Out of the total 67 candidates this election, 12 were from PKR, seven from DAP, three from the Sarawak National Party, one from PAS and 13 were independents.

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