With Saratok question answered, PDP sets sights on GE14

Progressive Democratic Party logo (photo sourced from https://m.facebook.com/spdp2211/)

Commentary

Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), which used to be known as Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) before changing its name at the end of last year, deserves a new start after being “insensitively treated” and ripped off of five state seats during the 2016 state election.

The party is back on track after Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg acknowledged in front of the media at a recent function that the Saratok parliamentary seat would be returned to the party.

That puts an end to the squabbles within the state Barisan Nasional (BN) for the seat and should boost the morale of PDP as a whole. With the dust quite settled and the air cleared, the party only has to wait for the announcement of the BN candidates’ names by BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak before launching a full charge to retake Saratok in the upcoming 14th General Election (GE14).

The party is traditionally allocated the four parliamentary seats of Mas Gading, Bintulu, Baram and Saratok.

Of all the seats, only Saratok has been suffering from complications after SPDP former president Tan Sri William Mawan left the party to form Parti Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak (Teras) which he later also left to join Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB).

A party insider told DayakDaily that the party was all set for the upcoming GE14 where the party leadership has confirmed the candidates for all the four seats.

“For three of our parliamentary seats of Mas Gading, Bintulu and Baram, all three incumbents will be fielded,” said the party leader who wished to remain unnamed.

The incumbents for the three seats are PDP secretary general Datuk Anthony Nogeh Gumbek (Mas Gading), president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (Bintulu) and Anyi Ngau (Baram).

In the 2013 general election, as a new face, Nogeh had a tough struggle in a four-cornered fight with one of his opponents being former BN candidate Datuk Tiki Lafe who stood as an independent, apart from Mordi Bimol of Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Patrick Uran from State Reform Party (Star).

However, Nogeh managed to poll 8,265 votes against Tiki’s 6,109. The majority of 2,156 ended Tiki’s era in Mas Gading.

With that record, it is expected that Nogeh will defend the seat for his party and state BN.

Going north to Bintulu, Tiong is also expected to be able to retain the seat which he took over from DAP strongman Chew Chiu Sing in the 1999 general election.

One interesting observation about Tiong’s majority over his four terms is that, it is like a roller coaster, rocketing higher over his first three terms but dropping drastically in the last parliamentary election.

In the 1999 general election, as a new face, his majority was only 1,400. In 2004, it soared to 11,267 and continued to rise to 14,966 in the 2008 general election. In the 2013 general election, however, his majority plummeted to 7,433.

It is thus predicted that Tiong who had created the pet phrase of “Kong-Kali-Kong” (empty vessels make the most sound) will be able to defend Bintulu but he will only be able to do so with a much lower majority, mainly due to the adverse factor of Najib’s unpopular introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which has caused a surge in cost of living affecting all and sundry.

While Mas Gading and Bintulu are white areas (the former due to the state BN factor and the latter, a personality factor), Baram is a grey area from a BN perspective due to the strong presence of the opposition in the area.

Anyi stood as a new face in the 2013 general election and won the seat with only a 194 majority. It was a close shave that puts Anyi in a very vulnerable position in GE14. In 2013, the odds for Anyi’s winning was fifty-fifty. Now, not only has that situation on the ground not been improved, it is getting worse with the introduction of GST. Baram thus will be one area to watch out for there is a high likelihood that it may fall to the opposition.

As for the controversial seat of Saratok, despite the big hoo-ha with Mawan, it is believed that it will be a safe seat for the ruling coalition.

Subeng Mula

Among the potential candidates identified at the onset — the three cousins Basil Thomas, Subeng Mula and Dr James Chela — the party insider said the party has confirmed the candidacy of Subeng Mula, a 55-year-old locally born businessman.

This man possesses a Diploma in Business Studies from Mara Technology University (UiTM) and is a specialist in the field of instrumentation and process control technology. There will be no surprises for him to retain the seat for PDP as long as there is no aggressive sabotaging from within state BN. — DayakDaily