By Ling Hui
CHINESE-majority seats N12 Kota Sentosa, N51 Bukit Assek, N54 Pelawan, N68 Tanjong Batu, and N74 Pujut are now back in the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) fold while Democratic Action Party (DAP) holds on for dear life to what’s left — N9 Padungan and N10 Pending.
It appears that DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen’s move from Kota Sentosa to Padungan, which he explained was to make up for former Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei’s resignation from DAP, had cost DAP his former constituency.
Leaving one of his special assistants Michael Kong Feng Nian to defend the Kota Sentosa fortress which Chong himself had held for 15 years, it was an obvious opening for GPS’ Wilfred Yap Yau Sin who has never stopped working on the ground, despite failing to get elected in the 2016 Sarawak Election.
This election, second-timer Yap played for keeps. During Kota Sentosa’s three terms under DAP, pockets of people in Kota Sentosa remained trapped in ruins and their quality of life disregarded. Yap, who saw this as a failure on the elected representative’s part, was determined to wrest back the seat and take the responsibility to improve the people’s welfare into his own hands.
By comparison, Kong had remained unusually quiet the entire campaign period. His perceived inexperience in the public eye was not helped by the fact that he was either seen tagging with Chong or his other DAP comrades on the campaign trail, or not at all. Whenever he was approached by the media, the only comment he had was to express concern over low voter turnout, and little else.
Despite Chong’s victory in Padungan, the number of DAP voters saw quite a significant decrease this year. Compared to Wong’s strong win with a majority of 4,270 votes in the 2016 State Election, Chong only managed to secure a majority of 1,198 votes against Kuching South City Council (MBKS) mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng.
It was probably not the best first-time experience for newcomer Wee as he had been rained down with not one, but several challenges in his efforts to become the Padungan representative in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN).
Ever since the announcement of his candidacy in Padungan, his ‘hometown’ so to speak, he was bombarded with verbal attacks from all sides. On top of the contentious debate about losing his services as mayor for him to become an assemblyman, his chances of winning suffered a serious wound due to an internal feud in Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Kuching branch regarding his candidacy two days shy of polling day. He had too short of a time to recover from the damage.
In Pending, many more DAP supporters seem to have turned their backs on the party when DAP big gun Violet Yong Wui Wui eked out a close win against long-time rival Milton Foo Tiang Wee from GPS when she could easily scoop up a majority of 5,012 votes last election. This time around, she defended her seat with a mere majority of 540 votes. Foo had caught up and was well within striking distance!
Putting the two less-than-convincing-wins aside, DAP had, in fact, brought about its losses in the five other seats it had held on itself by letting down Chinese voters and breaking many promises made during the last general election.
Back then, DAP gained strong support from the Chinese by hitting the then Barisan Nasional (BN) government for being incompetent. However, the fact remains that during the 22-month period when Pakatan Harapan (PH) which DAP was a part of was in power, it had failed to deliver on most of its promises.
Development projects were cancelled with DAP claiming they were saving money for the State. The Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) was never recognised under PH, and DAP could only cite excuses and no apologies. The return of 20 per cent oil royalty and 50 per cent taxes to Sarawak and Sabah never happened, but DAP put the blame on the Sarawak government, claiming it was flat out rejected by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
PH’s policy flip-flops were another major factor that caused Chinese voters to withdraw their support not only in Kota Sentosa, but in four other constituencies namely Bukit Assek, Pelawan, Tanjong Batu, and Pujut.
It is worthwhile to note that all four debuting assemblymen namely Joseph Chieng (Bukit Assek), Michael Tiang (Pelawan), Pang Leong Ming (Tanjong Batu), and Adam Yii (Pujut) are new faces from GPS.
The results did not come as a surprise as when compared to the opponents, GPS candidates were seen as having higher chances of serving their constituencies more effectively as SUPP is part of the GPS coalition.
Meanwhile in Dudong, another hotly-contested seat, thanks to Bintulu MP Dato Sri Tiong King Sing’s grand entrance in Dudong when he was announced as the GPS candidate despite the seat traditionally contested by SUPP, the eight-cornered fight received one of the highest voter turnout rates in this election.
Despite an intense battle, there was no doubt that Tiong, a seasoned politician and the president of Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), would capture Dudong from Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB). Many people perceive him as a sharpshooter especially when he speaks in Parliament. He is not shy about calling out underperforming government officers, opposition leaders, elected representatives and ministers, often lambasting them without mercy. His brazen attitude has won him many fans and supporters across the State and country.
Facing Tiong, a five-term MP and the Prime Minister’s special envoy to China who has quite a long history in politics, meant five of his seven contenders lost their deposits.
In the hot seat of Pujut, which has been without an elected representative since February last year following the disqualification of DAP’s Dr Ting Tiong Choon for having both Australian and Malaysian citizenship, Miri City Council (MCC) mayor Adam Yii Siew Sang from GPS-SUPP emerged the winner against DAP big cheese Alan Ling Sie Kiong, a former Piasau assemblyman.
Meanwhile, it was a walk in the park for SUPP’s seven incumbents, namely Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian in N14 Batu Kawah, Lo Khere Chiang in N13 Batu Kitang, Dato Sri Huang Tiong Sii in N45 Repok, Datuk Ding Kuong Hiing in N46 Meradong, Datuk Sebastian Ting in N73 Piasau, Datuk Francis Hardin Hollis in N31 Simanggang, Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin in N75 Senadin, to retain their seats.
Each of the six has his strong points, not to mention distinct advantages as some are also holding ministerial posts, it would be no easy feat for the six to be overpowered. The opposition would have to move mountains to bring them down.
Speaking of strongholds, Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh from PSB put all doubts to bed after he successfully defended his seat in N53 Bawang Assan. His PSB comrade See Chee How also defended his seat in N11 Batu Lintang.
Retaining seven seats and wresting back another six, it has been a triumphant showing for GPS-SUPP in the 12th Sarawak State Election. On the flip side of the coin, it has been the worst day ever in recent history for DAP.
The big question, of course, is what would be DAP’s next course of action to rectify this predicament because obviously, the kid just had five out of his seven sweets snatched away. He’s got to do something! — Dayakdaily