Isnin, 4 April 2011

Ba'kelalan poser as nomination nears

Ba'kelalan poser as nomination nearsWith 48 hours to nomination, Barisan Nasional (BN) set tongues wagging when it unveiled today all except the candidate for the Bario highlands constituency of Ba'Kelalan in the April 16 state election.

Ba'Kelalan is reportedly eyed by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) state chief Baru Bian who contested unsuccessfully for the seat twice, losing the last time by a narrow 475 votes in 2006.

The remote Orang Ulu-dominated area has the smallest number of 6,958 voters of the 71 constituencies to be contested, and it has been in the BN fold since it was made a constituency in 1996.

The late Dr Judson Sakai Tagal of Sarawak National Party (SNAP) won Ba'Kelalan uncontested for the BN in 1996 and 2001. After SNAP was deregistered in 2002, he helped set up Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) in 2003 but died in a helicopter crash in 2004.

Nelson Balang Rining, under the SPDP banner, retained Ba'Kelalan in the ensuing by-election and again in 2006, both times beating Baru Bian, who was an independent in 2004 and a candidate for the revived SNAP in 2006. SPDP remains one of the four component parties of the state BN and it has been given eight seats to contest this time round, including Ba'Kelalan.

"We want to keep you guessing, we will find the right candidate so that people can vote for him," said Tan Sri Adenan Satem, chief information officer of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), the biggest component party in Sarawak BN, and special adviser to chief minister and state BN leader Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Whether this has rattled PKR's game plan will be known tomorrow when PKR is expected to announce its candidates.

The BN, which captured 63 seats in 2006, maintained the status quo with PBB contesting 35 seats, Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) running in 19, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) nine and SPDP, eight.

Taib made good on his promise to inject new blood as 18 new faces, barring Ba'Kelalan, were named, mostly professionals in their 40s.

Among the debutantes are well-known cardiologist Prof Dr Sim Kui Hian who will contest in Pending and another medical specialist, Serdang Hospital cardiologist Dr Annuar Rapee, who will stand in Nangka.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the BN chairman, who met Taib two days ago in Putrajaya, had said the candidates were the best picked to represent the multi-ethnic coalition.

The DAP named 10 more candidates today to complete its slate of 15 contenders that includes seven first timers.

With SNAP naming 27 candidates yesterday, PKR and PAS are the only opposition parties yet to reveal their runners.

It is left to be seen if SNAP will field more candidates on Wednesday after its president Edwin Dundang yesterday accused PKR of not wanting an electoral pact with the Dayak-based party.


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