Showing posts with label by-election. Show all posts
Showing posts with label by-election. Show all posts

Sunday, May 2


(This story was first published by The Malaysian Mirror and is reproduced for the readers of The Broken Shield)

By Joseph Tawie
SIBU – The fight for the control of Bandar Sibu between Sarawak DAP chairman Richard Wong Ho Leng and a new comer Robert Lau Hui Yew of SUPP in the forth- coming by-election scheduled for 16 May is expected to generate not only great interest among the public, but one that has many political implications.

Too much is stake for both sides of the political divide. If DAP is to win it, it will mean SUPP is going to suffer in the coming State election. Likewise, if SUPP is to win it, it will mean, the road to Putrajaya will be closed.

“If we win this by-election, it is the signal that we are marching towards Putrajaya,” DAP national adviser Lim Kit Siang declared over a dinner in Sibu. He knows that the next target is the other 30 parliamentary seats.

Currently the Opposition has one seat – the Bandar Kuching seat – to its credit.

Sarawak which has 31 MPs is being considered the “fixed deposit” of the Barisan Nasional.

The by-election has been called following the death of the MP for Sibu and deputy minister of transport Robert Lau Hoi Chew on 9 April.

Nomination day has been set for 8 May.

After the Hulu Selangor by-election, all the nation’s eyes are now focused on the Sibu by-election as to which party has the support of 54,695 voters, 66% of this total are Chinese voters. The rest are Malay/Melanau voters forming about 17%, followed by Ibans 15% and the rest are Bidayuh, Orang Ulu and Indian voters.

There are 2,537 postal voters.

Despite Robert Lau junior being a “greenhorn”, the Barisan Nasional-SUPP is confident that he will retain the seat for the Barisan Nasional.

“The Prime Minister is impressed with his credentials,” said Sarawak Barisan chairman and Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud when announcing the candidacy of Robert Lau who is a lawyer and a Sibu councillor.

Some consider the by-election is even more interesting as it is held immediately on the heel of the recently concluded Hulu Selangor by-election in which the Barisan Nasional has reclaimed the seat even though it lost Chinese votes heavily to Pakatan.

“That is the reason why the by-election has generated so much interest among the politically conscious people, because they are interested to know how the Chinese in Sibu will vote. Will they vote for SUPP or DAP?” asked a political observer.

And according to the voting trend in the 2008 parliamentary election, only about 40% to 45% of the Chinese voted for SUPP’s Robert Lau. Lau’s victory was due to votes coming from Iban, Malay/Melanau and postal votes.

Had it not been for these votes, the result of the last election in this constituency might have gone to Wong Ho Leng of DAP who secured 15,903 as against 19,138 obtained by the late Lau – a majority of 3,235 votes.

Few factors which are going to influence the general voting pattern of the Chinese in the country are UMNO’s support for the “ultra” Perkasa whose aim is to protect Malay rights allegedly threatened by Chinese and others. The other is Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s declaration that he is Malay first and Malaysian second. As such Prime Minister Najib’s 1Malaysia concept appears to be hollow.

These are some of the factors that have hardened some Chinese to be “anti” Barisan Nasional and this “anti” feeling was clearly displayed in the Hulu Selangor by-election. This feeling may spread to the Sibu by-election and have some adverse implications against the SUPP candidate.

“This is the reason that makes the Sibu by-election not only interesting, but a very important one as it will determine the degree of support of the Chinese for the Barisan Nasional particularly SUPP,” said a veteran politician.

He said: “SUPP needs to know this so that it can plan its election preparations accordingly for the coming state election that may be called any time now so that it can recapture the eight seats it lost in the last election.”

But on the other hand, SUPP has the advantage of huge financial resources and the whole government machinery behind it.

The announcement last week in Sibu by Deputy Prime Minister of RM200 million is considered to be the first “down payment” to end the perennial flooding that has caused hardship and damage to properties.

Another RM2 million has also been allocated to five Chinese and mission schools after years of complaints.

More “goodies” from the Barisan Nasional are expected to be dished out in the days leading to the by-election. And with such “goodies” how can the BN lose in the Sibu by-election? Such “goodies” if they did miracle in the Hulu Selangor by-election, surely will do the same in Sibu.

From past experiences, Chinese are not easily attracted to such “goodies”. Such being the case, it is obvious, however, that SUPP cannot depend on Chinese votes alone. That will be disastrous. So the most important thing is for the party to go all out not only to maintain the votes coming from the Iban, Malay and Melanau communities, but to increase the votes manifold.

Needless to say, SUPP will have to work very hard, leaving no stone unturned to ensure its victory. Even though losing and winning the by-election does not change anything, SUPP, however, regards it as the most important barometer to gauge how much support SUPP has from the Chinese especially after they revolted against the party in the 2006 State election.

“We have to work very, very hard to win this by-election. The victory here is particularly very important for us and I believe Robert Lau Hui Yew, being young, can give us that victory badly needed to present a new image for the party in our election preparations,” said SUPP president George Chan at a recent press conference.

“I do not know what issues they (Opposition) can raise; to me, there are no more issues, but I do know that the Opposition is capable of manufacturing issues,”
said Chan.

“But this time around I am confident with the support of the federal government in terms of financial allocation the Chinese voters will come back to support us,” said Chan.

After all, he said, BN and SUPP through the late Lau have done so much to transform Sibu into a modern city.

On the other hand, DAP is all out to wrest the seat from SUPP. It had done it before in the 1982 parliamentary election and it almost captured it in the last parliamentary election, if it were not because of the postal votes.

“There is no reason why DAP cannot win this by-election. Nothing is impossible,” said the DAP adviser.

For the DAP, it has plenty of campaign issues to exploit: education, Chinese schools, floods, land issue, the alleged discriminative policies of the State government against the Chinese, and weak SUPP leadership.

The fact that none of SUPP’s elected representatives either MPs or assemblymen, dares to raise issues that concern the Chinese community is an issue.

It is seen that the Chinese community needs the Opposition to do the “barking” like complaining about the failure of SUPP to protect the interest and welfare of the ordinary men on the street, the hawkers and the small time traders and contractors.

Many of these small time hawkers, traders and businessmen have closed shops or have been declared bankrupt or moved away to other towns due to lack of development, employment and business opportunities in Sibu.

More over, DAP has been highlighting Taib’s policies that have made the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer, as the State resources – forests, timber and lands – have been squandered and plundered to benefit close family members and cronies.

SUPP being part of the government is being blamed for such a policy.

Other than the above issues, DAP together with its Pakatan partners must make some efforts to go to some 100 Iban longhouses in the constituency, where the Ibans not only have been neglected in terms of major development, but have also their native customary rights lands taken away from them.

Their lands at the Sibentek and Bukit Tanggie areas, once planted with rubber under the rubber planting schemes in 1970s are now under the names of big towkays. Their protests have been ignored.

While both sides have plenty of issues to talk about and explain to the voters, at the end of the day, the voters will make a decision.


Friday, May 1

Thanksgiving dinner

On Wednesday night (29 April), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) organised a thanksgiving dinner to celebrate the BN’s victory at the recently concluded Batang Ai by-election. The dinner was held in Kuching and was attended by some BN leaders including Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

At the dinner PRS president James Masing spoke of the “unity and excellent” example of teamwork of Barisan component parties from Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia that helped ensure their victory.

“If all BN components in Sarawak, the Peninsula and Sabah can work together as we have done in Batang Ai, we can beat anything that the opposition parties throw at us,” he said.

Was Masing telling the truth? Or did he say it to please DPM and others present? That is really a good PR exercise. During the campaign for the Batang Ai by-election from 29 March to 6 April, we were told that Masing was furious that he was left on his own with no money coming from the other BN.

Lucky for Masing, one of his men who had business contracts, had to come up with over RM500,000 to help finance the election. A PRS supreme council member, Tedewin Ngumbang admitted that PRS and members toiled hard to look for money to help finance the election. He confirmed no financial assistance coming from PBB and other BN parties.

It was true that PBB was there, but it operated separately with no connection with Masing. DCM Alfred Jabu went on his way after he had a spat with Masing over some Party symbols and posters. Awang Tengah was also own his own after he argued with Masing during a meeting in Sri Aman.

During the counting of votes, Jabu who was with CM in Kuching only phoned Awang Tengah for the latest results and not Masing, although Masing was the director of operations.

Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) “semadi” campaign, because in its heart of hearts it wished that PRS lost the seat so that its (SPDP) position in the BN would be strengthened while PRS position was weakened.

Even its president and deputy president did not attend the thanksgiving dinner as if they had no respect for the presence of deputy prime minister.

Anyway, we want to know how much money was spent on the thanksgiving dinner and why it was held in Kuching and not in Lubok Antu? Could it cost RM200,000 or more? Could it not be better to spend such money on a project that would bring direct benefit to the Batang Ai voters say on improving medical facilities as a way to say thank you?The Broken Shield

Monday, April 6

News from Batang Ai (Part 14)

The daily update of news
from Batang Ai by-election
1. Voters return home to Batang Ai

Several scores of voters who are working in the cities, towns and in Peninsula Malaysia are returning today to Batang Ai to cast their votes for tomorrow’s by-election. Many are going on their own transport, but some are using buses already arranged for them by both the Barisan Nasional and Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

PKR hopes that these working voters who are more knowledgeable in issues being discussed regarding NCR land, unpaid claims and lack of development, muddy roads, lack of electricity and clean water supply, may be able to influence their parents, uncles, aunties and their siblings to vote for PKR candidate, Jawah Gerang.

PKR also hopes that pensioners should help by telling their relatives that the BN government is not fair to Ibans in terms of recruitment into the civil service and in promotions, entry into universities and scholarships, etc.

Unless the aged voters or the longhouse voters are told about all these, they may not understand about these issues and are confused by the promises of development and financial assistance.

2. Menteri Besar Selangor campaigns in Lubok Antu shops and market

Menteri Besar Selangor Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim early this morning campaigned at the Lubok Antu bazaar and talked to shopkeepers and people in the market. PRS president James Masing and his team also campaigned in the market, after Tan Sri Khalid has left.

The Menteri Besar then left for Buie not far from the Hydro-electric dam. He was accompanied by Datuk Sri Daniel Tajem. The Menteri Besar is expected to return to Kuala Lumpur later today.

3. Mafrel is fair, says Peter John

In The Borneo Post today, PRS president James Masing questioned the fairness of the election watchdog Malaysians for free and fair election in its coverage of the by-election in Batang Ai. Its interim report recently only covered the supposed wrong doings of Barisan Nasional and not the opposition.

Masing said that Mafrel should have reported the incidences of the opposition tearing down and vandalizing BN posters. One billboard at the junction leading to the Batang Ai hydro-electric dam was vandalized and a police report had been lodged over the matter.

He regretted that Mafrel did not seem to bother about the incident apparently because they were more focus on reporting the bad side of BN.

Peter John Jaban, Mafrel chief, today said that nobody reported the matter to him. However, when they found out, they had taken photograph of the vandalized billboard.

Peter said: “For information of the public, we have not submitted any report on the by-election. The game is not over yet. How can he say we are unfair?

“He must have seen reports done by other people. Certainly not our report,” he said and pointed out that Mafrel also covered functions carried out by PKR.

4. BN rating goes up?

Following reports of Ting Ling Kiew, deputy president of SNAP and Ambrose Labang and three other PKR leaders joining BN, the BN rating for the Batang Ai goes up in a similar fashion when Dr. Mahathir rejoins UMNO the rating of BN in Bukit Selambau and Bukit Gantang also goes up. This assessment is done by BN leaders.

According to PKR sources, “Manok Labang” who has so many baggages attached to him is more a liability than an asset. He has no “tuah, only tuah chelaka”. When the other fighting cock dies, this "Manok Labang" runs away.

In the Iban culture, when a fighting cock runs away when its opponent is dying, it is known as that fighting cock having “tuah chelaka”.

5. Don’t believe contents of CDs and pamphlets, says Awang

Voters in Batang Ai have been advised not to be taken in by the contents of the pamphlets and CDs which contained negative elements, said Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, second minister of planning and resource management and a senior vice president of PBB.

It is true that PKR and NGOs have been distributing thousands of pamphlets and CDs to all the longhouses detailing how land and survey department staff which is under Awang Tengah’s ministry destroyed Iban longhouses allegedly built on State land, how oil palm companies have chased Ibans away from their NCR land and have destroyed their cash crops, their pepper, rubber and fruit tree gardens. All these are being put into CDs and are distributed free of charge.

The strategy by PKR to distribute the CDs and pamphlets must be very effective so much so that the second most powerful minister has to advise the people not to be taken in by the contents.

According to reports received by The Broken Shield many of those who have seen the CDs were seen crying.

More to come…stay tune to

P/S: I will be going to Batang Ai to today (6 April) to cover the by-election and will only be back to Kuching late evening of 7 April. To all voters the of Batang Ai, I wish you good luck and success.

Sunday, April 5

News from Batang Ai (Part 13)

The daily update of news
from Batang Ai by-election
1. Ambrose Labang resigns from PKR

Julau division chairman of PKR Ambrose Labang and his deputy, secretary and a committee member resigned today from Parti Keadilan Rakyat. He went to the BN operations centre at Batang Ai just to announce their resignations.

The three others are Wong Kee Kai (deputy), Kajang Unan (secretary) and Kundi Untung (a committee member).

He said that the PKR would never be able to carry out development programmes or help the people. People in the rural areas need the BN as such they should not waste their times any more with PKR.

Well, actually it is good that Ambrose Labang resigning from PKR so that it can find better candidates for Meluan and Pakan constituencies, because if we sabong this “manok labang”, he has no “tuah”, except “tuah chelaka”.

2. Tan Sri Khalid, Menteri Besar Selangor, visits Lubok Antu again

Menteri Besar Selangor, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, arrived this evening (5 April) at Batang Ai and his programme is to campaign at Mepi Pasir tonight. Early in the afternoon he campaigned at Changkol.

This is Tan Sri’s second visit. His first visit was on nomination day (29 March). Tan Sri Khalid is very determined to see that Dayak rights are returned to the Dayaks, but what is sad is that, not many Dayaks who have been vocal all this while, are seen at the Batang Ai. Jawah needs all of us to help him defend Dayak rights.

3. Jabu eats his own words

Deputy president of PBB Alfred Jabu anak Numpang last month accused de facto leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Anwar Ibrahim of disrespecting the Iban Adat when visiting a longhouse. As a result, Jabu said one person died.

The Iban adat is that when a visitor of high standing visits a longhouse he must be accorded an Iban adat including miring (offerings) and genselan (part of the offerinfgs), so that his visit to the longhouse will bring luck to the longhouse folks. Fair enough.

Now, so many “outsiders” including a number of federal ministers have come to the longhouse to “mess with the Ibans” (to borrow Jabu’s words). The question is: did Jabu arrange these VIPs to undergo these miring and genselan rites? If not why not? For genselan (slaughtering of animals to clean the feet) the Ibans normally used a pig. For a non-Iban could a cow or goat be used?

Genselan is also used to see the liver of the pig. If the liver is long and sharp, it can mean a good omen; a dull and short mean bad luck. BN candidate on the nomination day did use a pig as genselan. Its liver was not seen and further more when Mussen speared the pig, the pig came out a live? Could it mean a bad luck?

4. Final push to win votes

If your read today’s The Borneo Post, all the pages were covered by pro-BM news, indicating a “confirmed” victory for the BN. “BN will win Batang Ai” says the heading in the Post which quoted UMNO vice president Mohd. Shafie Apdal as saying.

Yes for sure, Jawah Gerang is an underdog, but he may spring the biggest surprise. Wait until 8.00 pm on 7 April.
More news to come...stay tune to

Can BN break the jinx in this Sarawak seat?

Taken from Malaysiakini >

Ever since the first state election was introduced to Sarawak in 1970, Batang Ai, which has strong Dayak sentiments, has always favour the opposition and the question that many political observers are asking now is whether the BN can break the jinx in this by-election.

Sarawak National Party (Snap) which was in the opposition won the seat in 1970. But when it joined the Barisan Nasional, the seat was captured by Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) then in the opposition in the 1983 state election.

In the 1987 election, it went back to Snap, but was retaken by PBDS in a by-election after Snap state assemblyman, Sylvester Langgit was killed in a road accident. PBDS-sponsored independent Mikai Mandau was elected in a by-election. However, Mikai who defected to PBB and stood on a BN ticket was defeated by the late Dublin Unting of PBDS, then the opposition in the 1991 state election. In 1995, PBDS rejoined the state BN.

Following the deregistration of PBDS in October 2004, PRS was formed and inherited the seat. Unting being one of the founders of the party, had been the state assemblyman until his death on Feb 24, 2009 that caused the by-election.

Now that Jawah Gerang, the five-term Barisan MP for Lubok Antu who is known to be a fiery speaker, has joined the opposition PKR, can the BN through a political greenhorn, Malcolm Mussen retain the seat for PRS?

Initially it appears that the BN is having an uphill battle as the opposition has launched an all-out effort attacking the BN left, right and centre, putting it on the defensive.

Wrong political strategy by BN

In its counter attack, BN blamed Jawah for lack of infrastructure development when he was 22 years as the Lubok Antu MP. That however was a wrong political strategy as it directly blamed the late Dublin Unting, the state assemblyman for Batang Ai.

Unting, who was a member of Abdul Taib Mahmud’s cabinet should be more politically powerful and influential than Jawah and should also share the blame for the failure to bring development to Batang Ai.

“I was an ordinary MP and I did not hold any ministerial post. You blame the ministers and don’t blame Jawah,” Jawah said.

Even PRS president and Land Development Minister James Masing agreed with Jawah and admitted that an ordinary MP or state assemblyman had no authority to decide on development plans. The only person who has the authority is the chief minister.

“If he wants that project to be implemented, it will be done almost immediately,” said a cabinet minister who refused to be identified and added: “Look at Mukah, which is in Taib’s constituency, more than RM1 billion has been spent for its development.”

In fact, Jawah in his fiery speeches revealed that his MP funds had been withheld for several months by the state government so that it appeared that he had not done anything to help his constituents. So who is to be blamed? he asked.

As polling day draws nearer, the Barisan Nasional is intensifying its campaign by deploying every available means to ensure that the seat does not go to the opposition. Helicopters carrying ministers start to criss-cross the interior of Batang Ai to make sure no longhouse is unvisited. Federal ministers also show up to help campaign.

'Do not miss out any area'

BN chairman and chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud (pic, left) said: “I have already told them, when they campaign, do not miss out any area. Although the BN camp is optimistic of its chances, there must not be any letting up and every nook and cranny of the constituency must be reached.”

The fact that Taib is giving the order indicates the tough battle the BN candidate is facing against an experienced candidate who has become an icon of Dayakism in the constituency.
Adding to the headache of the Barisan Nasional is that a number of ex-PBDS leaders are assisting Jawah who was a vice president of the party before its deregistration.

Their campaign for their former colleague seem to revive a spirit of esprit-de-corps in this by-election by raising issues connected to Dayak rights.

They remind the voters that the fight for Dayak rights began in Lubok Antu where famous fighters such as Rentap Libau and Banting fought against the White Rajahs.

Many of the Iban fighters had died due to their inferior weapons as compared with what were used by the Rajahs. But their spirit of bravery not only continued to be chanted and ranted in pantuns (traditional songs), but also inspired them, especially their descendants.

Jawah described as a 'hero'

Against this historical background, another battle is on between two descendants of great warriors, the political battle to control the Batang Ai constituency.

Jawah Gerang noted for his oratory has been described as “Bujang Berani” (hero) representing Parti Keadilan Rakyat while his rival is the former civil servant, Malcolm Mussen, of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), a component of the Barisan Nasional.

Knowing the historical background of Lubok Antu, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim in one of his campaign trails declared:

“Let Batang Ai initiate the political change with this by-election. And soon it will spread to other parts of Sarawak and Sabah.

“I am confident of it and Jawah Gerang will do it for us,” added Khalid.

But the BN government is equally confident of winning the by-election. Taib Mahmud said: “No amount of opposition persuasion will make the people of Batang Ai abandon the Barisan Nasional which has proven time and again that it is capable of bringing progress to the rural constituency.

“Despite the opposition’s push for headway into longhouses, the local community is well aware of the many benefits they will enjoy once the government plans are implemented,” he said.

As hinted by Taib, money and “instant noodle” projects will be the tools of the Barisan Nasional where more than RM100 million worth of projects have been approved, and they include road projects, telecommunication centres and towers, repair of longhouses, and grants to longhouse development and security committees. Many more are expected in the last day of campaigning.

And with a theme “Change the government”, the opposition on the other hand is highlighting the lack of infrastructural development, basic amenities, clinics, electricity, supply of clean water, broken promises, and lack of farming land, blaming the government for all the people’s miseries.
These miseries were created by the government as a result of the construction of the Batang Ai hydro-electric dam in 1982.

Projects approved 'on-the-spot'

Some 1,200 square km of land and several graveyards were submerged and about 20 longhouses involving more than 400 households had to be moved out and resettled down river in an entirely new environment.

There were also allegations against the government for its failure to keep its promises resulting in their claims unpaid, land titles not given, no electricity and clean water supply and no land to farm, etc. As a result of these broken promises, the people have suffered a great deal.

And to rebut all these allegations, BN sends it most powerful Second Minister of Resource Management and Planning and Minister of Public Utilities, Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, to Batang Ai to approve projects “on-the-spot”.

Now the BN is fully confident of winning the by-election, especially when the newly-appointed Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is also campaigning for the BN candidate.

Thus, Joseph Salang, PRS information chief, believes that his party is going to win the by-election and its victory “will make a perfect gift from the Iban community in Sarawak to new Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak”.

He said the Ibans who make the majority of the voters in the constituency could ill afford to reject the BN government candidate Malcolm Mussen Lamoh and should not shame Najib by voting for the opposition in Batang Ai.

But one of the most important factors is the background of the candidate. For Jawah, he is well known for his outspokenness and has also helped to turn so many longhouses into modern structures, comparable to any house in town. Every weekend, he is always with the people.

For Malcolm Mussen, he has yet to be tested although as a civil servant he was doing very well. But what comes to haunt him is his late father, Penghulu Lamoh’s alleged involvement in selling land belonging to the people.

As one woman cried out loud during the nomination day: “Mussen, remember what your father did to our land; he sold them and we cannot forget that. We do not want any of the children of Penghulu Lamoh to be our leader and sell our land again.”

Nevertheless, the voters have a choice. After listening to both sides, they know what to do. Either they vote for the candidate from BN which promises more development or the candidate from PKR which wants to change the state government. The answer to this will be known on April 7.


News from Batang Ai (Part 12)

The daily update of news
from Batang Ai by-election

1. SG cars changed to ordinary numbers

Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, a senior vice president of PBB and second minister of planning and resource management, accompanied by Joseph Salang, PRS information chief and deputy minister of energy, water and communications visited Rumah Ungki, Tabau today. On the spot, he approved RM70,000 worth of roofing materials for the longhouse.

On request by the Tuai Rumah for the maintenance of their road, Awang said he would send his officers to estimate the costs of the road maintenance.

Four SG cars were used, but the plates of the cars were changed to ordinary numbers. They tried to cheat, but four MALFREL observers took note of the cars.

Compared Awang Tengah to our Iban ministers, none has that type of authority who dares to approve on the spot. After Taib, Awang Tengah (aka Awang Tanah) is the most powerful minister in the cabinet. Even Alfred Jabu and George Chan, although deputy chief ministers, have none of this authority given to them.

2. Today in history

3 and 4 April 1987 was polling day for the Lubok Antu parliamentary by-election. The by-election was caused by the untimely death of Andrew Janggi Muyang of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) as a result of a road accident.

You know who was a PBDS then? It was none other than Jawah Gerang, 33 years old. As an economist he worked with a bank and he had to resign his post to take up the challenge.

Twenty two years later, another by-election is being held for the State constituency of Batang Ai following the death of the incumbent Dublin Unting. Again Jawah Gerang has been called by his community to represent Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). What a coincidence! Even the two-day of polling 3 and 4 equals to 7. Polling date for this by-election is also on 7. Both in April. What do you make of this?

3. An encounter with an Australian journalist

I was in Lubok Antu today where I met an Australian journalist, Norman Hermant, who works for ABC Australia Network and CBC Newsworld. He is based in Bangkok. He is interested to cover Jawah Gerang’s campaign in the interior of Batang Ai, especially those who have suffered for the past 25 years as a result of their resettlement due to the Batang Ai hydro-dam and the government which promised to help them had failed to keep its promises.

We need this type of exposure so that the whole world will know how the Ibans have suffered, marginalized and oppressed.

4. Newly appointed PM to campaign in Batang

It is learnt that the newly appointed Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will make an historic visit to Sarawak, especially to Lubok Antu to campaign for the BN candidate for the Batang Ai by-election starting from tomorrow. He is likely to be accompanied by Sarawak’s Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

The three by-elections, Bukit Selambau, Bukit Gantang and Batang Ai, have been regarded by observers as a test of Najib’s popularity especially when the by-elections are to be held days after he had been appointed as PM.

But PBB deputy president Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang said that the victory of Batang Ai by-election will be a “good present” for Najib from the State Barisan Nasional.
more to come…stay tune to

Saturday, April 4

News from Batang Ai (Part 11)

The daily update of news
from Batang Ai by-election

I am now backed in Kuching after spending 8 days in Batang Ai observing the by-election conducts. And as far as our term of references (which is very limited) is concerned we are more or less done, 3 days before polling.

Why I said we are done, because there is nothing to observe anymore. What happen in the next few days will be of no different. Riggings in this by-election are rampant and sad to say that the words “CLEANS, FAIR & FREE ELECTION does not exist in Batang Ai by-election vocabulary.

Our report and photographs taken during our stint in Batang Ai have been compiled and submitted to our Head Quarters in KL.

MAFREL (Batang Ai) had reached a conclusion that Batang Ai by-election is where politic is at its worst. It’s here that money politics rear its ugly head. By all accounts I dared says that Batang Ai by-election is the dirtiest, most unfair & expensive in Malaysian election history.

We observed that:

1) During nomination day (29/3/09) we felt that the police should not have confisticated PAS flags, only returned after vehement protest from PKR. What puzzled us most was why the police allowed SUPP flags among the BN crowd. Report and photos taken during the incident has been submitted to HQ KL for further action.

2) BN candidate election posters were pestered a day before the nomination date. This is a gross defiance of the by-election conduct. We had taken photographs of those posters at Ng. Mepi longhouse. This was by no mean an isolated case because we found the same in other longhouses.

3) It was common sight to see BN giving away gifts of all sorts to the people in the constituency. We have pictorial evidences to that effect but I don’t think its wise me to disclose them here.

4) Misused of government vehicles (pic below) is very rampant and seem to be an acceptable norm among BN officials. We took photos of not less than 47 SG vehicles either parked near the BN “ceramah” or near their operation rooms since nomination. During the nomination day alone we sighted not less than 120 SG vehicles not far from the nomination centre.

5) Civil servants, Departmental heads, teachers appears to be parts and parcels of BN election machineries. They are being deployed and mobilized to every longhouses and corners of Batang Ai.

6) MAFREL (Batang Ai) hereby confirmed the talks that “Tuai Rumah” or longhouse chief are being “kidnapped” and held hostages at Batang Ai Hilton. Some of those whom I met reveal that they are given RM1,000.00 pocket money during the duration of their stay. Some who chose to go to Kuching for sight seeing are given more. We observed that this is indeed very effective tools deployed by BN politician to entice voters. If not money politics, bribery what then?

7) As expected BN ministers continuously poured in “instant noodle projects and other goodies” virtually to all 121 longhouses in Batang Ai. As far as MAFREL is concerned, this is a daylight bribery. Again we have more than enough evidence to support our claims. It’s now up to HQ to make the necessary discloser.

8) Our monitoring unit reported that BN campaigners have contravened particular section of the by-election Act whereby they placed BN flags on the bridge and other prohibited places.

9) We also received report that BN supporters/campaigners pulling down PKR flags at the entrance of a particular longhouse. At the time of reporting police report has been lodged.

10) By MAFREL (Batang Ai) estimation the cost of this by-election far acceded the allowable amount of RM150K by contending parties.

11) We also reported & recorded scares tactic employed by BN Ministers esp. by Jabu, Masing, Awang Tengah, Awang Asfia, Salang, Entulu , Gramong Juna , Fadillah and few others during their “ceramah”.

12) We had examined and scrutinized the voter lists, found out that 111 years old voter still appear in the electoral roll. We checked with NRD and our trip to a grave yard confirmed that this particular voter died some 30 years ago. We have communicated our findings to the EC and believed that this is by no mean an isolated case.

13) We also received complaints from the longhouse residents that some of the names are missing from the electoral rolls. We are still investigating their claims.

14) Intelligence information received from the ground suggested that there will be more longhouses after the by-election. Reasons: Batang Ai by-election will cause a split among longhouse folks leading to the formation of new residence/longhouse.

15) In 1996 election, Donald Lawan successfully challenged Mong Dagang in the court as a result of practicing money politics. Will the 2009 Batang Ai by-election provides another same scenario of Jawah Gerang Vs. Malcolm Mussen, not only in Batang Ai battle field but also in court battle? NOT impossible if MAFREL (Batang Ai) reports and findings are anything to go by.

16) I must say within our term of references, the 26 Mafrel observers have done a splendid job as an election watch dog despite the numerous hurdles and handicaps.

For more info, go to MAFREL's website >

2. Good wife?

Goerge Chan (pic), chairman of Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and deputy chief minister dismissed PKR’s intention to eventually take over the Sarawak government with a sense of humour.

“The PKR leaders have been trying to change the federal government, and now the Sarawak state government. Do you think that if you have a good wife, you want to change her?”

What is said by George Chan is very true. But yet some YBs and even ministers have changed their wives even if they are good.

After being elected or appointed as ministers some Dayak YBs are having mistresses. This makes them vulnerable and earns them little respect from their own communities as well as other communities.

How can they look after the interests of their constituents? How can they become a role model? Many have changed the acronym YB, instead of Yang Berhormat, it becomes ‘Yang Bebini’ or ‘Yang Bekendak’.

3. Minister fails to turn up for his appointment

Awang Tengah Ali Hassan a.k.a Awang Tanah, senior vice president of PBB and second minister of planning and resource management was supposed to visit Rumah Jengin to campaign for the BN candidate, Malcolm Mussen on 2 April at 2.30 pm.

Some 50 villagers were waiting for him. There were also several reporters present to cover the visit. When he failed to turn up, State Assemblyman for Ngemah, Gabriel Adit who had arrived earlier at the longhouse to campaign for the PKR candidate, Jawah Gerang seized the opportunity and “hijacked” the event. He touched on issues including the unsettled claims of compensation for the Ibans affected by the construction of the Batang Ai hydro-dam and the NCR land issues.

Adit also took the opportunity to introduce Dick Sakalai, former deputy Resident, who would contest against John Sikie, PRS State assemblyman fo Kakus and Stanny Embat, former police officer, to contest against Alfred Jabu in Layar.

According to Adit, the people responded enthusiastically and understood the message the PKR passed to the Iban community.

More to come…stay tune to

Friday, April 3

News from Batang Ai (Part 10)

The daily update of news
from Batang Ai by-election


1. Dayak bloggers now known as Specialist instigators

While describing Dayak bloggers as “specialist instigators”, deputy president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang called on the people not to read too much into the blogs as most of the issues written were “cooked-up stories”.

Contents of the bloggers’ information had no quality as what they could do was to “sabong” people hoping that others would turn against BN, thus weakening it.

Of late these bloggers had pitted him against Parti Rakyat (PRS) president James Masing, making people think that he and Masing were now quarrelling.

“They should know that it was I who proposed to the BN that Masing should become the director of operations in the Batang Ai by-election,” said Jabu, who is deputy chief minister.

The Broken Shield highlighted a spat between Jabu and Masing over certain billboards which only carried the PRS symbol and the photographs of its leaders. Confronting Masing, Jabu asked why other symbols of BN component parties and their leaders were not included. Masing explained that in certain areas such as in SALCRA oil palm schemes the PRS symbol was more effective.

I would have thought that since Jabu had been praising SALCRA for successfully turning the scheme participants into “wealth-to-do families”, Jabu’s pictures should be more than a welcome by the participants and the voters. But why the participants hate Jabu?

2. Ting’s statement on SNAP described as “rubbish”

SNAP secretary general Stanley Jugol has rubbished the statement made by the deputy president of Sarawak national Party (SNAP), Ting Ling Kiew that he had the support of the majority of CEC members who wanted to rejoin the Barisan Nasional and had thrown their support to the BN candidate in Batang Ai by-election.

Jugol who is currently campaigning for the Opposition candidate in Batang Ai said that the majority of the CEC members were with him and the president, Edwin Dundang.

“Every one of the CEC members contacted me and assured me that they do not wish to return to the BN,” said Jugol.

Ting’s claim that he had the support of the CEC members were mere “rubbish”, he added.

3. No proof that government had taken people’s NCR land?

The Opposition is harping on the land issues by accusing Barisan Nasional of seizing the people’s native customary rights (NCR) land but none could prove the allegations, said Barisan Nasional youth chairman, Fadillah Yusof.

Although the state government had given those who claimed that their NCR lands had been seized the opportunity to provide evidence, no one had come forward until now, he said.

“These baseless allegations will go on and they will try other things, seen or unseen to win people’s support during this campaign,” Fadillah said.

Fadillah must be out of touch. And we cannot blame him since he lives in Kuala Lumpur after being appointed to the post of deputy minister of science, technology and innovation.

Fadillah, there are ample proofs, if you care to check with the Court where the NCR land owners have filed, up to now, nearly 200 cases against the government.

There were also demonstrations and land owners arrested by Police for defending their lands. All these were being published in newspapers. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of land including NCR land in Simunjan have been given to Narodeen Majais, in Samarahan to Taib’s brother-in-law and in Betong, Sri Aman and Limbang to Jabu’s son and cronies.

Fadillah can lie and fool the kampong people, but not their children many of them are professionals.

4. Rayong campaigns for BN

Johnichal Rayong was addressing a gathering at a longhouse when Jawah Gerang arrived. He went straight to Rayong and asked him if he had joined Barisan Nasional.

He told Jawah and those present that he had not joined the Barisan Nasional. “Nama nuan tu kampen ke Barisan Nasional?” Rayong felt embarrassed and left immediately. Jawah then took over and addressed the people.

Any YB wanting to defect to the Barisan Nasional is sure to be accepted immediately. But for Rayong, his application to become a political frog has been put on hold since May last year. Any way he behaves like a BN YB and is being used by Alfred Jabu to fool the people of Batang Ai and Engkilili.

5. The battle of the “outsiders”

Both Jawah Gerang, the PKR candidate and Malcolm Mussen, the BN candidate are contesting for the Batang Ai constituency in this by-election.

They are considered as “outsiders” of Batang Ai as both of them are from the state constituency of Engkilili. Between the two, Jawah is better known because he had served the Batang Ai for five terms as the Lubok Antu Member of Parliament.

But for Mussen, he is a greenhorn and is a stranger to the voters of Batang Ai. No wonder, many people in Batang Ai keep on asking, Mussen who?

6. Message to all the ex-PBDS leaders

This is a special message to all leaders of the defunct Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) who have remained partyless. Please come to Lubok Antu and assist Jawah Gerang in this by-election against the State BN regime which is robbing our people of their NCR land. Let us all help Jawah Gerang to win. In this way we are not only displaying our solidarity and unity, we are also at the same time reviving the spirit of Dayakism.

Datuk Sri Daniel Tajem (pic), the last president of PBDS before it was deregistered, is now in Lubok Antu leading the way to help Jawah.

Remember who destroyed PBDS. Remember who are against the registration of Malaysian Dayak Congress (MDC). This is the time we punish those traitors to the Dayak community by voting against their crony.

More to come…stay tune to

Thursday, April 2

News from Batang Ai (Part 9)

The daily update of news
from Batang Ai by-election
1. SG cars used by campaigners

Mafrel (Malaysian for free and fair elections) has taken photographs of SG cars being used in the current campaign for the Batang Ai by-election. Malfrel said it will bring up the matter with the relevant authorities, especially the Election Commission.

Will the relevant authorities take action?
A SUPP ceramah featuring the BN candidate Malcolm Mussen was observed by 4 Mafrel observers at Lubuk Antu town on Mar 30th evening. The presence of Mafrel observers caused the 2 state government vehicles, driven by 2 datuks -which were originally parked right in front of the venue, to be driven into a dark corner behind some shops, forcing the candidate to walk a distance to get to the vehicle. This shows the impact of having official observers wearing vests around!

From our observation the candidate had a hard time answering requests from a Kapitan Cina and a headman.
Report from : Peter John Jaban

2. Three longhouses pledge support for BN

Residents from three longhouses on Tuesday pledged full support to the Barisan Nasional candidate. The pledge was done at the PRS operations room at 2.30 pm. They were represented by three persons, one Tuai Rumah and two wakils from Ensawang, Wong Pandak and Wong Panjai.

As a matter of fact, there is no need for the three persons representing the residents of the three longhouses to go all the way to pledge support to the PRS candidate at the PRS Ops room; after all they were the traditional supporters of the late Dublin Unting. Perhaps they have other motives.

3. SNAP is heading for split?

It is little doubt that Sarawak National Party (SNAP) is heading for a split after its deputy president Ting Ling Kiew pledged full support to the BN candidate, Malcolm Mussen, while its president, Edwin Dundang and secretary general Stanley Jugol campaigned for the PKR candidate, Jawah Gerang.

Ting who is now in Lubok Antu campaigning for Mussen said to the press that he had a meeting with in-coming Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak and told him that SNAP pledged its full support to his leadership and to the Barisan Nasional. Ting met Najib without the knowledge of the president. Was he alone?

Dundang had returned to Kuching from Lubok Antu where he had been campaigning for Jawah Gerang and held an emergency meeting with his CEC members.

He is expected to issue a statement today (2 April). The contents of the statement are likely to be: (a) that the views expressed by Ting are purely his own and nothing to do with SNAP leadership; and (b) Ting is likely to be expelled from the party.

4. Denial No. 1: Never promised free water

The government has never promised that it will give free electricity and treated water supply to those relocated by the Batang Ai or the Bakun hydro dam projects in the State. The settlers will have to pay their monthly bills, deputy minister of science, technology and innovation, Fadillah Yusof said.

He was asked to comment on the perception by some settlers the government had failed to honour its promise of free water and power supply to them when they were relocated to make way for the dam 25 years ago.

Some 3,000 people from 26 longhouses were relocated before 1982 when the dam was constructed and completed three years later.

Water and electricity have become hot issues in the Batang Ai by-election as many of the relocated longhouses have for the past 26 years drinking “dirty water” and using kerosene lamps to light their houses.

The government’s failure to help the relocated people is coming back to haunt them during this by-election.

5. Denial No. 2: BN does not practise discrimination

Party Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president James Masing said that Barisan Nasional (BN) does not practise ‘pilih kasih’ (favouritism) when it comes to disbursing funds for projects or allocating projects.

Even if the BN had practised the culture, especially in Lubok Antu, it was during the time of Jawah Gerang who was the MP for five terms.

I thought it was a few days ago that Masing said Jawah as an ordinary MP had no authority to decide on development plans. Now he accused Jawah of practising “pilih kasih”.

The “pilih kasih” factor is not in the BN dictionary now and this was exemplified by the handing out of cash rebates to outboard engine owners because all those affected by impact of the drastic oil price surge last year were them.

This is certainly a very bad example. Like motor car owners, all outboard owners are qualified to receive such rebates as announced by the Prime Minister whether they are BN members or not.

6. Denial No. 3: Chinese in Batang Ai not neglected

The minority Chinese in Batang Ai have never been neglected in development but are constantly given attention by the government to ensure that they enjoy the opportunities just like other communities, the Barisan Nasional candidate for the Batang Ai seat, Malcolm Mussen Lamoh said.

“I will fight for the rights of the people in Batang Ai irrespective of whether they are the minority, like the Chinese,” he said during the campaigning at the Lubok Antu Market.

There are about 300 Chinese voters.

7. Anwar’s campaigns in Lubok Antu

The Police refused to give a permit for Anwar Ibrahim to address the people at an open space in Lubok Antu. Instead he addressed about 300 to 400 people at Kampung Kutai last night.

Soon after arrival, he went to Nanga Kesit and addressed the people there. Today he will visit Bertih on the way back to Kuching and Kuala Lumpur.

More to come…stay tune to

Wednesday, April 1

News from Batang Ai (Part 8)

The daily update of news
from Batang Ai by-election

1. Anwar’s visit to Lubok Antu

De facto leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat Anwar Ibrahim will arrive in Lubok Antu today (1 April) to give the Batang Ai by-election a big push. He has three programmes for Lubok Antu – one at a longhouse, second at a Malay kampong and third at Lubok Antu itself where he expects to address a crowd of 3,000 or more people.

Anwar’s visit will further enhance the chance of Jawah Gerang winning the by-election and at the same time to stop speculation that Anwar is not serious in the Batang Ai by-election.

Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Barisan Nasional campaigners have been telling voters that Anwar is more interested to see by-election victories in Bukit Selambau and Bukit Gantang.

2. BN campaigns are still in low key

A disgruntled member of PRS told The Broken Shield that BN campaigns are still in low key. Everything is still in disarray. Even PRS operations room at one time was left unattended. Except for visits of ministers and deputy ministers, campaigns have not begun in earnest.

This is a normal strategy of Barisan Nasional. First, they appear to be indifferent towards the campaigns so that their opponent will be lulled into complacency. Secondly they want their opponents to exhaust their resources.

They will go all out three days from polling. This will be the time they will announce more election projects or instant “noodle” projects. Each one of the Tuai Rumah will be called to the district offices where they will be coached to say “election words”. After the coaching has been done, they will bring with them “angpaus” to be distributed to their respective voters.

And the amount of “angpaus” given to Tuai Rumah is not the same, depending on the number of doors of the longhouse. On arrival at their own longhouses, the Tuai Rumah will call each one of the voters to his “bilik” and it is here that the voters receive the “angpaus” and told them to vote for the BN candidate. How can we beat this system?

3. Mussen’s shyness is confirmed

PRS secretary general Wilfred Nissom said that Malcolm Mussen, the PRS candidate for Batang Ai by-election was “smart” and carried with him years of experience in agriculture and that he would let action do the talking.

He said his shyness should not be interpreted as being lazy because Mussen “walks the talk”.

Most of our Dayak YBs are shy and when you are shy you are “malu” to ask something from anyone, in their case, from the government. Does it mean anything to you that most of the Dayak constituencies are lacking in development as compared to Malay or Chinese constituencies? So if the shy Mussen is elected, do we expect much from him as YB? Think about it.

4. PKR gets lukewarm response at Rumah Jubang

It is reported that a group of 15 men from Parti Keadilan Rakyat last Sunday evening was said to have received a poor response from Rumah Jubang Bin, Sebangkai Panjai. A resident who told Utusan Borneo said that the group had come with a loudhailer and flyers at 8.15 pm at a time when the residents were relaxing and chatting with each other.

“We saw them coming in vans and cars, and they immediately made their way to our longhouse. They went into a living room of one of our residents to hold a campaign for their party.

However, not many of us were interested to listen to them because majority of us are Barisan Nasional supporters. So, we just minded our own business and went to our respective rooms.”

Sebangki Panjai is the longhouse of the late Dublin Unting. In 2004, this longhouse was partitioned into two with one section having its own Tuai Rumah who was appointed by the late Unting.

The other partition with the original Tuai Rumah supported Jawah Gerang of PBDS during the parliamentary election. William Nyallau, an independent candidate, was supported by Unting, PRS and BN. Jawah defeated Nyallau with a 2,035 vote majority.

5. Masing says Jawah has no authority

James Masing has put the blame on Jawah Gerang for the lack of development in Lubok Antu because as an MP for 22 years Jawah did not lobby hard enough for development.

“Of course as an ordinary MP, Jawah has no authority to call or decide on the development programmes in Lubok Antu, but he should have lobbied hard for development in his area,” he said.

But Jawah refused to be blamed for not delivering development to Batang Ai in his five terms as Lubok Antu MP. If there is anyone to be blamed for lack of infrastructure projects in Batang Ai it should not be him.

“I did not hold any ministerial post when I was MP. The ministers in Sarawak could have done something to develop Batang Ai instead of focusing on their own areas like Mukah, Betong and Kapit.

“If Batang Ai or Lubok Antu is not well developed, these ministers should be the ones to be blamed. Don’t blame Jawah,”
he said.

Abdul Taib Mahmud spent billion of ringgit to develop Mukah. Although we have hydro-electric dams to produce electricity, yet Taib proposed the construction of coal-powered electricity.

This alone costs the people’s money to the tune of RM800 million. A road is also being built to link Mukah with Nanga Merit, Kapit where there are found coal deposits. In terms of road construction, ‘siapa untung’? In terms of taking coal deposits, ‘siapa untung’?

Same thing happens in Betong, the home town of Alfred Jabu. Betong gets its funds through virement of funds from other projects in other areas, resulting in these areas left with little development or no development at all. As for Kapit, Masing, although a minister, has little authority to decide on development. Just like Jawah.

6. Sng’s statement

The Broken Shield has received a statement from Dato Sng Chee Hua:

“With reference to recent articles in the local Chinese dailies, I would like to make it known that I have already retired from politics. As such I no longer involve myself in party matters and I support the Government of the day.

“I am aware that certain Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) leaders who have ill-will against me, from the fall-out in the party, are trying to accuse me of working against the interests of Barisan Nasional in Batang Ai. This is a lie. I am a BN man and I believe that BN will deliver the seat.

“I am compelled to issue this press statement in the light of the recent allegations which have no basis whatsoever against me in the media.”

Dato Sng Chee Hua
31 March 2009

7. Ng appointed as advisor to PKR candidate

A Chinese newspaper, United Daily News, reported erroneously that PKR State assemblyman Dominique Ng has replaced Nicholas Bawin as PKR director of operations for the Batang Ai state by-election.

The correct position is Ng has been appointed party advisor to the PKR candidate in Batang Ai, Jawah Gerang, and also as the coordinator for the Batang Ai by-election matters while Bawin remains as director of operations.

Selangor menteri besar and PKR national vice president Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said on Sunday that Jawah and Bawin would be campaigning separately across the 156 longhouses in the sparsely populated state constituency.

Bawin told The Broken Shield that he and his group would continue campaign in the lower Lemanak area while Jawah and his group would be covering longhouses in the upper reaches to counter the propaganda campaign by the BN groups such as JASA, KEMAS and Agriculture Department.

Next he would move into Engkari before rounding up the campaigns in the Batang Ai resettlement areas where there are 21 longhouses.

8. SNAP to rejoin BN?

News being circulated in Batang Ai is that Sarawak National Party (SNAP) is to rejoin BN after it left the coalition in 2002 following a leadership crisis. That crisis led to the formation of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP).

SNAP’s rejoining the BN is to be announced by UMNO president and in-coming Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak when he visits Lubok Antu in the next few days to campaign for the BN candidate.

Sources from SNAP say that making the arrangement for SNAP’s return is former Bintulu MP and SNAP deputy president Ting Ling Kiew.

But SNAP president Edwin Dundang and secretary general Stanley Jugol, according to the sources, are likely to join the Pakatan Rakyat. Relationship between Dundang and Ting has suffered a setback after Dundang did not agree to SNAP taking part in the Batang Ai by-election. Ting is also known to be anti-PKR extending its base to Sarawak especially among the Ibans.

If SNAP is really serious in returning to the fold of the Barisan Nasional, the party is expected to undergo another crisis which may finally lead it to self-destruction. In fact, the sword of Damocles is still hanging over its head.

Even if Najib is going to announce SNAP’s re-entry to the BN in Lubok Antu, it is going to have a minimal effect on the on-going by-election. After all SNAP is almost left with its “tulang” (bones) only.

9. YB William Nyallau hospitalized

News reached The Broken Shield that YB William Nyallau anak Badak has been hospitalized at the Normah Medical centre. It is due to fatigue after a strenuous campaign for the BN candidate, Malcolm Mussen.

How serious is it, no one knows.

But whatever it is Batang Ai is a hot seat where two State assemblymen had died in office, Sylvester Langgit (died in a road accident) and Dublin Unting. So is the Lubok Antu parliamentary seat and an MP was killed in a road accident. Only Jawah Gerang, the five-term MP has survived, because he is guided by unseen hands. Strange but it is true.

10. Masing and Jabu argue over PRS billboards

James Masing and Alfred Jabu were reported to have a heated argument over certain billboards which feature only the photographs of PRS leaders and not PBB, SUPP and SPDP photographs.

When Jabu saw these billboards, he was furious because his photograph and the photographs of other leaders were not included. So he confronted Masing over this.

Masing tried to explain that since this is PRS war, some of the billboards need only to feature the photographs of PRS leaders, because their pictures are more appealing to the voters.

Masing knows that the people of Batang Ai especially those SALCRA participants just hate Jabu and the more Jabu tries to be present in any political campaigns the more the BN candidate will lose the votes.

But will the heated argument between Masing and Jabu affect the outcome of the by-election or even the PRS membership in the BN?

More to come…stay tune to

Tuesday, March 31

News from Batang Ai (Part 7)

The daily update of news
from Batang Ai by-election

1. Rumah Beranda remains isolated

Rumah Beranda Aluk, Nanga Bengap which is about 15 km from the main road is little known longhouse as no VVIPs has ever visited it. Except for Jawah Gerang who visited the longhouse three times already and the late Dublin Unting visited the longhouse once only during his years as YB.

Only three days ago Mong Dagang, PRS youth chief, visited the longhouse. He represented the PRS president James Masing and promised a grant of RM5,000 to the longhouse.

Tuai Rumah Beranda and his “anembiaks” were happy to see a BN man visiting them especially during election times, as he wanted to tell them of their problems that have been harassing them.

Among others the problems are:-

(a) most of them are poor and the government should look after their welfare;

(b) they need plots of land for agriculture as most of the land surrounding them have been taken by Salcra;

(c) their road conditions are terrible and for the last 27 years they have been asking for the road to be tar-sealed; and

(d) they request for RM70,000 to repair their old longhouse.

Other Tuai Rumah should emulate Tuai Rumah Beranda and tell BN of their problems as this is the ONLY time that instant “noodle” projects will be promised.

Unfortunately, a junior official of BN was sent to the longhouse, the one who has no power. A minister in the likes of Joseph Entulu should have visited the longhouse.

2. RM2 million for longhouses in Batang Ai

Some RM2 million has been approved for the upgrading of longhouses in Batang Ai, said deputy rural and regional development minister, Joseph Entulu Belaun.

He said each “bilik” (door) of the identified longhouses would soon receive RM300 to RM1,000 for repairing walls and roofs and kitchen extension.

“The allocations are not carrots or for the purpose of fishing for votes because development in rural areas is ongoing,” he said, when he campaigned for Mussen at Rumah Jarop Kalang, Changkol.

Do you believe what he says?

3. Dayaks do not need PKR to resort to Dayakism

Barisan Nasional youth director of operations Mong Dagang for the by-election says that he is aware of PKR trying to fan the spirit of Dayakism to instigate people turning their backs on the BN government.

“With PKR being a peninsula-based party, it is not right for PKR to resort to Dayakism when their own leaders and the party itself practise multiracialism. The Dayaks in Sarawak do not need PKR as their platform because there are already many Dayak-elected representatives in the four BN components.

“In BN, we have a lot of Dayak-elected representatives albeit in the four components. Thus we don’t need PKR to champion the rights of the Dayaks,”
he said.

What Mong says is true that we have a lot of Dayak-elected representatives. But what is the use if these Dayak-elected representatives have never raised issues such as NCR land issues that are affecting the livelihood of the Dayaks.

Why? Simply because they are scared of Abdul Taib Mahmud. This everyone knows. Even when PRS submitted a memorandum on NCR land to the PM last year, PRS was told off by Taib. So what has happened to the MoU on NCR land?

Secondly, why Dayaks want to use PKR as a platform?

(a) because it has pledged to save Dayak land from being taken away;

(b) because it was Masing who told PM and CM that he strongly opposed the registration of MDC (Malaysian Dayak Congress) (YB Gabriel Adit knows about this as he was present at the meeting); and

(c) because Masing and PRS are the ones responsible for the deregistration of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) which had stood as a symbol of Dayakism.

4. First public duty of Malcolm Mussen

The BN candidate for Batang Ai by-election Malcolm Mussen’s first public duty is to open the Lubok Antu branch of Sarawak Bumiputra entrepreneurs association on 3 April.

The branch was hurriedly formed last week to time it with the ongoing campaign. This was stated by association president Abang Zaibidin Abang Zainal. The branch headed by Penghulu Lembang Bagong has about 100 members.

It looks like that the association is playing politics. And nobody makes noise. But if Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) or Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) or even Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association (SDGA) is to organise such a function during election time, the first to cry foul will be Alfred Jabu. He will surely accuse them of playing politics.

5. CM face defaced

As you enter the Lubok Antu road from the main Kuching/Sibu road, there is a big BN billboard featuring the photographs of Sarawak leaders such as Abdul Taib Mahmud, James Masing, Alfred Jabu, George Chan, William Mawan and the BN candidate Malcolm Mussen. The face of Abdul Taib Mahmud was defaced.

According to PKR, this is the work of PRS members themselves so that the blame will be on PKR. Although Abdul Taib Mahmud has been the target of PKR, we will not resort to such tactic, said a PKR leader. He believes that that was the work of the PRS members themselves.

6. Masing wanted UMNO to come to Sarawak

James Masing has been telling the people of Batang Ai to reject PKR as it is a peninsula-based party. Sarawak should mean for local-based parties and no “outsider” party should be allowed.

According to Gabriel Adit, State assemblyman for Ngemah, it was James Masing who wanted UMNO to come to Sarawak.

Adit recalled that the entire PBDS executive committee members met the top leadership of UMNO including Muhamad Muhamad Taib, Najib Razak and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad soon after the Ming Court crisis.

Masing, Adit said, asked Joseph Entulu, leader of Youth wing of PBDS to tell UMNO leaders to bring the party (UMNO) to Sarawak in order to get rid of Abdul Taib Mahmud whose policies are detrimental to the interests of the Ibans.

In each of these meetings, Entulu repeated the request.

Dr. Mahathir told them that the UMNO should not extend its wing to Sarawak because it might create problems, citing Sabah as an example. He said that it was a mistake for UMNO to come to Sabah as it created many problems. He did not want Sarawak to have such problems.

Today, Masing and Joseph Entulu, according to Adit, not only jealously defended Taib’s policies on NCR land-grabbing, policies that undermine Ibans’ interests and unity, but also went to the extent of “nilat burit Taib” (licking Taib’s ass).

They defended Taib’s family wealth, cronyism, CMS and so on. “These are the qualities of Dayak leaders we have in BN,” Adit said to the applause of the people of Rumah Abeng, Nanga Mepi.

More to come…stay tune to

Monday, March 30

News from Batang Ai (Part 6)

The daily update of news
from Batang Ai by-election


1. 'Satu lawan satu'

Jawah Gerang (pic, right) of PKR is facing Malcolm Mussen of Barisan Nasional in the Batang Ai by-election announced on Thursday.

Sone 10,000 people were present to send their respective candidates to the nomination centre. While the Parti Keadilan Sarawak’s supporters were from local people, the BN’s supporters came from civil servants, council staff and etc.

Johnny Chuat, an Iban blogger and producer of Iban magazine, failed to submit his papers even though he went inside the nomination centre. However, when he came out, he wore PKR shirt and called his supporters to support Jawah Gerang.

2. An encounter with James Masing

One day before nomination day, the small town of Lubok Antu was full of people literally to its brims. Wherever you went, you were bound to meet the same people.

While looking for food, three of us – myself, my colleague and our driver – we met Masing, the BN director of operations and his supporters. After finishing our food, we thought it be discourteous if we did not say hello to the minister.

So we shook hands with him. I was the last to do so. “Hello, YB Dr.” I said. Replying, he said: “Why is your Broken Shield always broken?”

“Well, because its parts and pieces are still with PBB, SUPP, SPDP, PRS, and other parties. Unless all Dayaks are united under one political party, the Shield will always remain broken”, I said. Masing looked rather uncomfortable.

3. The pig that did not die

Whatever Ibans do such as farming, constructing a house, working in distant land, “miring” (rites) is part of the custom.

When Malcolm Mussen procceded to the nomination centre yesterday, a “miring” ceremony was performed.

Part of the ceremony was for him to spear a pig. Usually after the pig has died, its livers were scrutinized carefully looking for any strange or unusual formation.

However, in Mussen’s case, they did not look at the livers as they had to hurry to the nomination centre. After they had left, someone found out that the pig was still alive. It had to be speared for the second time. What does this signify? Bad omen?

4. Dominique Ng causes a stir

During yesterday’s nomination day, the entire cabinet of Abdul Taib Mahmud were present. Sabah’s deputy chief minister Joseph Kitingan and two federal ministers were present.

A special tent was constructed for the VVIPs so that they could drink and wait for the outcome of the nomination. Another one was constructed for the Opposition.

Dominique Ng (pic above, left), PKR State assemblyman went to the tent housing the VVIPs to take photographs when one of the VVIPs asked him whether he went to the wrong place and that he should change his shirt. (Dominique at that time was wearing PKR shirt).

“No. I am happy with my baju,” he replied.

“Then you better leave, we do not want you,” said Alfred Jabu, deputy chief minister and deputy president of PBB.

“After this, we also do not want you,” replied Dominique.

“You talk big,” remarked Abdul Taib Mahmud, chief minister and president of PBB to the laughters of all present.

“Don’t worry, we are all big,” said Dominique before he was pulled away by a security personnel.

5. About RM500,000 spent on nomination day

About 5,000 BN supporters were present at the padang during the nomination day yesterday holding BN flags.

It was said that each participant was paid RM40.00 That will come to RM200,000. What about money spent on drinks and food for the VVIPs and other invited guests?

And claims, travelling and lodging allowances of civil servants? There were more than 800 police personnel present. That day alone not less than RM500,000 was spent.

More to come…stay tune to

Sunday, March 29

News from Batang Ai (Part 5)

The daily update of news
from Batang Ai by-election

1. A BN gathering at Kaong

Joseph Entulu, PRS deputy president and Joseph Salang, PRS information chief, last night campaigned at Rumah Ambau, Kaong for their candidate Malcolm Mussen.

Like in any other longhouses, Tuai Rumah Ambau, while welcoming the two deputy ministers, called on his people not to vote for the BN candidate and told them why.

Several people tried to stop him talking, but he continued talking and repeated what he said “don’t vote for BN candidate.” The two deputy ministers were clearly not amused, but strong supporters of BN were stunned.

Others (perhaps PKR supporters) smiled. Even if the Tuai Rumah did not make a genuine mistake, the damage has been done.

2. Mussen the silent observer

According to a Bernama report dated 28 March, it said that “so far Mussen has been silent observer at the numerous meet-the-people sessions, preferring to leave it to deputy chief minister Afred Jabu anak Numpang, who was constantly with him, to speak his mind on why the Ibans, who are the majority voters (98%) and in Sarawak, should keep faith and confidence with BN”.

So if this is the person who is going to be YB for Batang Ai, then there is no hope for development to come to this constituency. He does not speak, nor says anything that he wants to do as an elected representative. In the end the people of this constituency will lose.

Should we vote for this type of candidate? Why ask Jabu to speak on his behalf?

3. Only Ibans can change Sarawak’s politics

Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim last night visited Rumah Abeng, Nanga Mepi and called on the Ibans that they only could help change Sarawak’s politics.

It was up to them, he said, if they wanted to change Sarawak’s politics. “It must begin from the Batang Ai,” he said and urged them to vote for Jawah Gerang, the PKR candidate.

This morning Tan Sri Khalid joined thousands of people accompaning Jawah to the nomination centre.

More to come….stay tune to





11.20am: In Batang Ai, the returning officer has confirmed that the Sarawak state seat will see a straight fight between Malcolm Mussen Lamoh (PRS) and Jawah Gerang (PKR).

10.43am: In Batang Ai, an objection has been lodged against Malcolm Mussen Lamoh (PRS) candidacy. PKR leader Dominique Ng is questioning the BN candidate on whether he has indeed resigned from his job as district officer. He also said independent Johnny Chuat withdrew at the last minute and pledged his support to the PKR candidate.

10.05am: In Batang Ai, the huge crowd of 15,000 is anxiously awaiting the official confirmation of their respective candidates. Only two candidates have filed their nomination papers - Malcolm Mussen Lamoh (PRS) and Jawah Gerang (PKR).

Expected Independent candidate Johnny Chuat, who was at the nomination centre this morning, did not submit his nomination papers.

About 1,000 police officers have been deployed to control the crowd and the traffic at the nomination centre in this tiny border town of Lubok Antu. The returning officer will now take objections to the candidacy of the two before confirming the candidates.

Two candidates have filed nomination papers in Batang Ai.

9.17am: In Batang Ai, PKR candidate Jawah Gerang, accompanied by Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim and thousands of supporters, arrived at the nomination center at 8.40am.

Minutes later they were joined by PRS candidate Malcolm Mussen Lamoh and top BN leaders including Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, Deputy Chief Minister George Chan and PRS leader James Masing. They marched to the indoor stadium from the BN operations centre about 2km away. Taib was said to have flown to Lubok Antu by helicopter.

The crowd gathering in a open field outside the Lubok Antu sports complex has swelled to about 10,000 with BN supporters outnumbering Pakatan.

8.45am: In Batang Ai, about 5,000 supporters for the candidates have gathered at the indoor stadium in Lubok Antu, a border town in the Sarawak state seat.While the focus of the battle will be between BN's Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, who is from PRS, and PKR’s Jawah Gerang, an independent candidate may throw his hat into the ring. It is learned that Johnny Chuat, 38, an oil and gas executive and a publisher of an Iban magazine, will be handing in his nomination forms this morning.

8.40am: Nominations for the Batang Ai, Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau by-elections began promptly at 8am today.