| March 27, 2011
With less than 10 days to go, there's jostling among candidates in Bidayuh majority Kedup constituency to be the 'chosen one'
KUCHING: Bidayuh-centric Bengoh and Kedup constituencies, are among four seats worth watching. The others are Tasik Biru, Opar, Tarat and Tebedu.
For the moment Tarat and Tebedu are considered Barisan Nasional safe seats.
In Bengoh, a nephew is poised to take on his uncle, incumbent Dr Jerip Susil in Bengoh.
Contesting under the PKR banner Willie Mongin is aiming to unseat his uncle who won the seat in 2006.
Susil, a two-term assemblyman, is said to be facing a groundswell that is working against him.
Susil is with Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP), a Barisan Nasional partner, which was all but slaughtered in the 2006 polls.
Whilst tipped to lose in the urban Chinese majority seats, SUPP is desperate to keep the Bidayuh seats.
But unlike in 2006, the return road for SUPP in these once BN loyal Bidayuh constituencies is not going to be easy.
In Bengoh, there are groups pushing for SUPP leaders to replace Susil and consider new faces.
Bengoh is likely to see a three-cornered fight between Susil, Mongin and Sarawak Nasional Party (Snap)’s Richard @ Peter Munai, who incidentally was Susil’s former personal assistant.
Both Mongin and Munai are Bidayuhs.
Susil however is unperturbed by the opposition candidates and the rumoured ground sentiments
According to him Bengoh has seen development during his time.
“I have 89 villages to service and I have to find ways and means to visit them at least once or twice a year.
“There is water, electricity and infrastructure. So far I find the people receptive to us, ” he said.
Unlike the opposition which is still splitting hair over who contests where, the BN machinery has already been working the ground.
“The BN component parties are intact (unlike opposition). We’ll be moving around the constituency informing them of the BN’s agenda. The people have seen development,” he said.
No solutions from opposition
According to him the opposition could at its best raise issues but ‘cannot provide solutions.’
“We know the opposition will raise various issues…but we have an advantage. We in BN can solve issue,” he said.
Bidayuhs comprise 65.72 of Bengoh’s 20,077 voters. Chinese make up 27.83% of the voters while Malay-Melanaus stand at 6.29%. Others form less that one percent.
BN cannot afford to lose its Bidayuh seats, not if the revelations of a recent ‘secret poll’ is anything to go by.
According to the ‘secret poll’ allegedly commissioned by Chief Minsiter Taib Mahmud’s own Information Department, there is a likelihood that BN would crash out in the polls, with Taib’s Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) losing at least 14 seats.
SUPP was also touted to lose 10-12 seats of its19 being contested.
Who’s the hero
In Kedup meanwhile the issue is ‘who will be the hero’ as seven candidates vie for the possibility of being the chosen one to contest in the upcoming polls.
The race to be the next Kedup assemblyman came about after incumbent Frederick Bayoi, who had held the fort since 1996, decided to call it day.
According to Infrastructure Development and Communication Minister Michael Manyin Jawong there are now many Bidayuh intellectuals interested to serve the community.
Actively lobbying for the Kedup seat are PBB Kedup deputy chairman Martin Ben, vice-chairman Alexander Ganyang, information chief Bernard Phillip and youth chief Mohd Jofaizal @ Joseph Entup.
Others in the fray are educationists Joseph Tiyam, Edward Luwak and radiologist Dr Eric Marcel Munjan.
“All of them are well qualified to be candidates and become YBs to represent the Bidayuh community but unfortunately we have only one seat,” said Manyin, wary of the resistence on the ground with regards to certain candidates.
Still, he is hoping that the others will offer their collective support to the ‘chosen one’ when the top BN leadership decides.
On the ground however, the local PBB faction is hellbent on rejecting ‘outsiders’.
“Kedup PBB has forwarded four names to the top leadership. They are locals. We reject outsiders,” said incumbent Bayoi alluding to the likes of Munjan..
With barely less than 10 days to go for nomination, potential candidates, incumbents included, are frantically trying to convince their bosses to field them.