THURSDAY, 22ND APRIL 2010
In the 2008 general election, late Robert Lau retained the largely urban seat with a 3,549-vote majority, beating Sarawak DAP chairman Wong Ho Leng and PKR’s Lim Chin Chuang in a three cornered fight.
Dr Wong Soon Koh as qouted in Borneo Post said that SUPP will win the by-election just like wht the other BN component party did in Batang Ai by-election held last April 2009. But what Wong Soon Koh forgot to consider the differents between the two by-elections in term of Geographically and socially.
In Sibu which is an urban area where the development is not a concern, most of the voters are educated and rich, and the most importantly majority of the voters are Chinese. Where as for Batang Ai, the most important factors why Barisan Nasional won the election was of it voters background and mentality. In contrast with Sibu, majority of the voters in Lubok Antu were Iban, whose are still in the "chawat mentality" and whose access to development were still very far behind thus easily manipulated by the BN. It was proven by the election result where the BN candidate despite his novice in politic but still managed to defeat Jawah Gerang with bigger majority.
For Pakatan Rakyat (PR), Sibu by-election is very crucial as a morale booster or a test ground prior to Sarawak state election which is due by July next year.PR in Sibu election will be represented by DAP candidate as agreed by the leaders of component parties in PR.
SUPP has lobbied for Sibu branch assistant treasurer Robert Lau Hui Yew, 45(Late Robert Lau's cousin) as the Barisan Nasional candidate for the by-election.Since then the party has started the campaign by visiting the hawker market in Sibu. So far, he has made two visits to the Sibu market and both had been given a wide coverage by Borneo Post, the local English newspaper.Obviously based on the newspaper report, SUPP will do whatever it takes to retain Sibu seat.
But in contrast, until today DAP has still not making any official announcement on their candidacy eventhough it has been speculated that it will be represented by Wong Ching Yong ,Or a new faces such as Lau Hui Ung, Yap Hai Loi and Oscar Ling or by Wong Ho Leng himself. Of these names, almost probably Wong himself will represents DAP. He is a well-known among the Chinese community, not only in Sibu, but all over Sarawak.
According to EC, the electoral roll to be used in Sibu by-election has a total of 54,695 voters, including 2,537 postal voters.And Of the registered voters, 5,740 comprise Malays (10.5 %), 36,389 Chinese (66.7 %), 54 Indians (0.1%), 218 Bumi Sabah (4%), 12, 050 Bumi Sarawak (22.1%), orang asli 23 (0.04%) and 71 others (0.13%).
Who Will Win the By-Election?
Who will be the choice of voters? Can SUPP ensure that the seat remain in its grip as it faces internal problems and dissatisfaction of the Chinese community towards this oldest party? SUPP which was established in 1959 is seen as facing endless internal crisis, and has failed to resolve issues involving the Chinese community, including economy and education. One must remember that in Sibu Town area, some 60 percent of its voters are Chinese, while the remaining are Melanau 20 percent, Iban 18 percent, Orang Ulu 1.1 percent and others 0.9 percent.
If seen from various angles, the by-election is not as easy as the 2008 election for SUPP. SUPP needs to work harder and come up with appropriate and effective campaign strategies to ensure the seat is not lost and jeopardising the party’s image and reputation when BN needs nothing else but victory at this time. If SUPP is defeated in this area, it will more or less give a picture of what will happen in the 10th State election later.
Race is not a big factor that will determine the outcome of this by-election as both parties (PR and BN) will be represented by the Chinese majority party. Being PR supporter/member myself, I predicted that Chinese voters will choose DAP to SUPP because the later has been given the opportunities to represent them but the party had failed to protect their interest and many felt that the party has been following the fingers of Taib Mahmud or Melanau.
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