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With the names of big guns being mentioned or re-surfacing to contest in this coming GE14, the field of possible candates for these two seats is getting increasingly crowded.
Of course, every one of them are optimistic that they can win these seats for their respective parties.
According to a source, Sibuti incumbent Datuk Ahmad Lai Bujang is unlikely to defend the parliamentary seat, and that two names— one of which belongs to a local ‘anak’ Sibuti — have been put forward as replacements to stand under the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) flag.
Ahmad Lai has been Sibuti MP since 2008, retaining the seat in a convincing win over PAS’ Robby@Muhammad Zaid Tandang in GE13.
Ahmad Lai obtained 13,348 votes, while Robby garnered only 7,282 votes.
Twice the recipient of a ‘Datukship’ title — one each received from the federal and state government respectively — it seems most likely the MP will be offered a golden handshake to ease the transition.
Unsurprisingly, those on his side are not too pleased with the names of other candidates being bandied about as replacements in Sibuti.
Nevertheless, rumours of Ahmad Lai’s ill health continue to abound and while this is thought to be likely the main reason why he would not be fielded to defend the seat, he himself had at least twice tried to squash the rumours through local newspapers.
At the end of the day, the final say will be up to the higher level within the party to decide who they think is the best and winnable candidate.
People in Sibuti are in favour of having their own ‘anak jati’ or Sibuti-born candidate to represent their voices in Parliament. For the record, Ahmad Lai was born in Lambir and he is a Melanau.
The majority of residents in Sibuti constituency are Kedayan, followed by Iban, Malay and Chinese.
As for the urban seat of Miri, there are at least six political parties which have shown their interest to contest.
Amongst those said to be keen are State Reform Party, PAS, Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) with two potential candidates in the form of Miri Mayor Adam Yii and Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting, United People’s Party (UPP) Pujut branch chairman Bruce Chai, state Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Baru Bian and state Democratic Action Party (DAP) secretary Alan Ling.
The incumbent, Dr Teo Yu Keng of PKR, is unlikely to defend the seat in GE14, which he won five years ago by a majority of about 1,900 votes.
The Miri parliamentary constituency has about 68,000 registered voters, comprising approximately 80 per cent Chinese and 20 per cent Bumiputera voters.
Are these prospective candidates ready with their election manifestos addressing issues of public interest?
Well, their fates will only be made known in GE14.
Political parties for sure will come up with numerous manifestos to attract voters, but the people will have the final say via their vote on polling day.
It’s worthwhile bearing in mind, that the Chinese voter mentality is much different from the Bumiputera voter’s, especially those residing in the rural areas.
Unlike their Bumiputera friends, the Chinese prefer to see a potential candidate who serves and delivers (walks the talk), going to the ground to meet-and-greet people from all walks of life, instead of just showing up once a month to visit their constituency.
Many aspiring candidates who are eyeing Miri have of late been seen gearing up for, promoting or marketing themselves to their potential voters and highlighting various issues, usually on social matters or public infrastructures.
In this regard, they should be credited for their efforts in making full use of modern technology to gain voters’ attention especially the millennium generation.
These signs have led this writer to conclude that Miri and Sibuti will be battlegrounds this coming GE14 as prospective candidates go all out to sway voters.
It will be interesting to see how this situation develops. — DayakDaily