New PRS faces in Selangau, Lubok Antu have their work cut out for them

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Commentary

By now, it is already quite certain that Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) will be fielding two new faces and four incumbents in the upcoming 14th General Election.

Being a rural based party, PRS is expected to retain all the six seats allocated to it due to strong rural support for the ruling state BN coalition. These six seats are Sri Aman, Julau, Kanowit, Hulu Rajang, Lubok Antu and Selangau.

Lubok Antu and Selangau are the two parliamentary constituencies expected to see new faces fielded. As such, things may be more uncertain in these two seats compared to the other four seats. What is almost quite certain however, is that Selangau and Lubok Antu will see new faces Rita Insol and Robert Pasang Alam fielded respectively.

Selangau incumbent Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun is said to be offloaded because he backed his long term friend to contest against Christopher Gira (Tamin assemblyman) in the 2016 state election. The move has been interpreted as disloyalty and an act to undermine PRS. The second reason is that Entulu was implicated in a corruption scandal when his personal secretary was detained by Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for false claims amounting up to RM500,000 about three years ago.


Rita Insol

Rita’s longhouse is Rumah William Bansa, Jalan Ulu Sungai Dijih, Selangau. The 56-year-old has a Bachelor of Law (Hons) from Malaya University and an MBA from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland.

She was a Magistrate with the state Judicial Department and later Chief Legal Counsel cum Head of Legal and Secretariat Division, responsible for the provision of legal and secretariat services, and management of tenders and contracts for the Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd group of companies before her early retirement.

She is married to Timothy Gima Uji and they have three grown-up children who are a pharmacist, medical doctor and dentist respectively. As one of the pioneer members of the Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association, Rita continues to be active in the NGO as vice-president.

It will be smooth sailing for Rita if Entulu obeys the party’s decision and lets go of the Selangau seat by walking away quietly. However, it is speculated that he would not give up without a fight. As an MP and a full minister in the caretaker government, and the fact that he has been working closely with many of the tuai rumah in the area, Entulu is expected to make a final stand as he is still able to sway the votes of many even without the blessing of the state BN.

Should that be the case, the Selangau fight would boil down to party versus personality. It would be an uphill task for Rita who is a political greenhorn, whose only advantage is that she fights under the state BN banner. If Entulu were to join the fray, Selangau will become a hot seat and it will be very interesting to watch how events
unfold in the constituency.

Meanwhile, Entulu’s comrade-in-arms Lubok Antu incumbent Datuk William Nyallau Badak will also most likely be replaced by Robert, who is the Director of Prosecution for the state of Sabah.

Nyallau is seen to be from the same camp as Entulu within PRS. He is however, said to be penalised for being “outdated” rather than disloyal. With PRS going for younger candidates to retain the support of younger
voters, it is understandable that the 67-year-old MP, who is an old timer, will be traded for a younger face.

Robert Pasang Alam

This new face will be Robert who was born at Tuai Rumah (TR) Winston Manai (known as TR Luyoh then), Rumah San Panjai, Lubok Antu. He is married to Jeniah Aja of Skarok, Lubok Antu and is blessed with two daughters who are both engineers by profession.

Robert has been involved in judicial and legal services since 1993. Among some of the positions he has held are Senior Assistant Registrar of the High Court, Magistrate, Deputy Public Prosecutor and Senior Federal Counsel.

Comparatively, in terms of age, presentation, experience and education, Robert is a much more convincing candidate than Nyallau.

However, Lubok Antu consists of the two state seats of Engkilili and Batang Ai where Engkilili assemblyman Dr Johnichal Rayong from United People’s Party had been perceived on numerous occasions to be openly interfering in PRS matters by calling for Nyallau to be fielded.

This is expected to be the greatest challenge Robert will face if he is fielded. As a fresh face, he has to earn the trust of the voters who are meeting and getting to know him for the first time. He will also have to fight an undercurrent of unknown magnitude stirred up by both Rayong and Nyallau. It will be a very tough fight for Robert. — DayakDaily

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