Archive for March, 2009

From Suara Keadilan to Suara Keamanan

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

A new party publication is set to hit the streets today to replace the banned Suara Keadilan, announced PKR today.

The popular Suara Keadilan and PAS’ Harakah were handed a three-month suspension by the Home Ministry last week for apparently inciting hatred against the government.

The party today said that it has decided to adhere to the ban and not publish Suara Keadilan until the suspension expires.

However as a replacement, the party said that it would be coming out with a new weekly publication called Suara Keamanan.

“It will be available for our readers from today,” said Suara Keamanan‘s editorial team in a statement.

Suara Keamanan
will be published without a printing permission from the Home Ministry
as “it does not require such a permission as it is not a periodical”.

suara keamanan 310309The
newspaper’s editorial team also said that readers will be able to
purchase the new publication from the same dealers and distributors as Suara Keadilan.

The first edition of Suara Keamanan played up the three upcoming by-elections on April 7.

PKR is contesting in two of the by-elections.

The main headline of the edition says ‘Kubur BN
(BN’s grave) and carries photographs of PKR’s candidate in Bukit
Selambau S Manikumar and its Batang Ai candidate Jawah Gerang.

The front page also contained a photo of PAS’ Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin who is contesting in Bukit Selambau.

Harakah is now Hujah

On March 23, the Home Ministry suspended both Suara Keadilan and PAS’ Harakah for three months with immediate effect.

Home
Minister Syed Hamid Albar was reported as saying that the two
newspapers were suspended because they had violated the conditions of
their permits and for inciting “hatred” against the government.

According
to him, the two party organs often published articles which questioned
royalty and sensationalised news that were defamatory and aimed at
causing confusion and disharmony in society.

In a similar fashion, Harakah is also expected to launch an alternate publication named Hujah. The first issue will be out on Friday. Mkini

Claims of phantom voters surface again

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

As many as 60 voters are sharing the same address in a housing estate in Bukit Selambau and this gravely worries PKR.

The party’s deputy youth chief Fariz Musa said this was a clear sign of the existence of phantom voters in the constituency.

He further claimed that PKR found 2,215 doubtful or phantom voters in the same housing estate in Taman Bandar Baru Bangi.

He
said that the housing estate has a total of 3,544 registered voters and
the doubtful voters make up of about 63 percent of the total number of
voters in this particular locality.

“We use the Sistem Menang
Pilihan Raya (Sismep) software which found that up to 60 voters are
living in one house in the housing scheme,” he told reporters in Sungai
Petani today.

He also said that checks using the software discovered that people (voters) of various races were living under one roof.

Fariz
added that they found Malay voters and Siamese voters staying together
in the same address, just like Indians and Chinese voters too in the
same address.

He said that his team has detected 76 houses so far in the one housing estate.

Their checks were based on the addresses of voters as per the voting list released by the Election Commission.

He urged the Election Commission (EC) to take immediate action to clean the electoral roll.

Fariz
added that PKR Youth was only checking on one housing estate and would
merge the results of all the studies on phantom and doubtful voters
before handing it over to the EC.

“Later today we will go to the
house that we detected to contain the phantom and doubtful voters for
verification before sending the protest memorandum to the EC,” he said.

PKR’s S Manikumar (photo) will be facing BN/MIC’s S Ganesan and 13 other independents for the state seat on April 7.

And in Bukit Gantang…

Meanwhile,
in Bukit Gantang, Wanita Umno has discovered that more than 5,000
voters have gone missing and want the party to trace them before the
by-election.

Former Wanita Umno chief Rafidah Aziz was reported
to have said that the movement’s machinery was unable to get in touch
with these voters.

“We
have done everything possible to find out where they are, but to no
avail. We hope the party headquarters will be able to help us by
tracing them through the party registration.

“These voters are crucial for us to ensure the Barisan Nasional candidate wins,” she said yesterday.

She
added the movement’s machinery has also identified more than 4,000
voters who were working outside Perak, adding that efforts were under
way to ensure they would come back to cast their votes on polling day.

In
Bukit Gantang, Umno’s Ismail Saffian will be facing PAS’ Mohd Nizar
Jamaluddin and independent candidate Kamarul Ramizu Idris on April 7. Mkini

PKR changes battle strategy for Batang Ai

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

Opposition PKR has re-strategised its election campaign and strengthen its machinery on the ground in Batang Ai in the face of an all-out effort by the Barisan Nasional to defend the seat.

MCPX

Yesterday, visiting Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, after a two-day visit, announced the PKR candidate, four-time elected representative Jawah Gerang and Nicholas Bawin, the director of operations, will be campaigning separately in order to cover every corner of the voting districts in the sparsely-populated Batang Ai state constituency near the border with Indonesian West Kalimantan.

They are accompanied alternately by the PKR state assemblyperson for Ngemah, Gabriel Adit, who sometimes moves on his own with other party campaigners to cover other areas as well.

The other PKR state assemblyperson for Padungan, Dominique Ng, has been appointed as party adviser to Jawah and election co-ordinator for activities related to the Batang Ai by-election to ensure the party work as a team, according to Khalid.

Khalid, who left for Kuala Lumpur last night, is also PKR national vice-president and PKR Selangor chief.

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, who has been away overseas in the past few days, will be flying to Kuching tomorrow and then by road to Lubok Antu to join in the campaigning.

Jawah to cover Engkari area tomorrow

Bawin told Malaysiakini by phone from Lubok Antu today that he will be leading his group to continue their campaign in the lower Lamanak river area today.

He said Jawah will be going to the longhouses in the upper reaches, and tomorrow he will cover the Engkari area and finally the 21 Batang Ai resettlement area, seen largely as his stronghold in the last election when he stood in the state and parliamentary elections.

He said the BN campaigning team comprising Jasa, Kemas and the Agriculture Department had been active in many longhouses along the various rivers.

“It’s tough but we are confident,” was all Bawin would say when pressed to assess their chances.

The BN’s “main weapon” is seen as money for there has almost been non-stop announcements every day even before nomination day of disbursements of funds for one project after another.

And the BN campaign is also seen as largely conducted by Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu, the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) deputy president, and his PBB team with the Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) team, led by state Land Development Minister, Dr James Masing.

The BN candidate Malcolm Mussen Lamoh is from PRS.

Strong backing from DAP

PKR, with the strong backing from DAP (which is working hard to get the 350 Chinese voters to swing to the opposition) and Sarawak National Party (which still enjoys some support from the Ibans) and other independent groups, are spreading out across the 150 longhouses to counter the BN propaganda.

They are also raising popular issues such as land and lack of compensation for the resettlement of people affected by the Batang Ai hydro-dam project in the 1980s.

Among personalities singled out for attack by the BN is Jawah himself whom the BN leaders said had done little in terms of development for the constituents when he was in the ruling coalition.

And the most popular figure targeted by the opposition during longhouse ceramahs is Chief Minister Taib Mahmud who they accused of not only doing little or nothing for the Dayaks, especially Ibans, but also responsible for the loss of much of their NCR land as well as accusing him and his family of amassing wealth.

Meanwhile, a former PRS leader Sng Chee Hua today issued a three-paragraph signed statement denying he was working against the interests of the BN in Batang Ai.

PRS leader Dr James Masing had accused him indirectly in local newspapers as being the towkay behind PKR in Sarawak.

The press statement by Sng said: “With reference to the 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 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 the BN in Batang Ai. This is a lie,” Sng said.

He added: “I am a BN man and I believe that the BN will deliver the seat.”

Sng said he was compelled to issue the clarification in the light of the recent allegations in the media which he described as having no basis against him.

Tony Thien, Mkini

Dayak NGO activists out in full force

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

Prior to nomination day, the Batang Ai by-election was touted as going down in history as a litmus test of PKR’s acceptance among the people of Sarawak, especially the Dayaks.

MCPX

Pundits said a victory for PKR, after its March 8, 2008 surge on the Peninsula, would trigger a chain reaction that would unhinge the existing political configuration in Sarawak, now heavily tilted in favour of Parti Bumiputera Bersatu (PPB), the dominant force in the ruling BN coalition.

Two days after nominations, another factor began staking its claim to making this by-election unique in the political annals of Sarawak.

It is said the campaign that kicked off last Sunday has seen the biggest-ever presence of non-governmental activists in an election.

Some 200 members, belonging to NGOs like the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia), Orang Ulu National Association (ONA) and various environmental groups, have descended on Lubok Antu and towns nearby like Sri Aman to lend support to the PKR campaign.

Both Sadia and ONA are NGOs devoted to community welfare of the Dayak.

According to Sadia president Sidi Munan, what is remarkable about the NGO presence is that the vast majority of the volunteers, decamping from as far as Miri and Bintulu in the north, have come on their own steam to help out.

“Never has there been such a large presence of NGO volunteers and activists in an election campaign,” remarked the 70-something Sidi, a veteran of electoral campaigns going back more than 40 years.

“There were NGO activists helping out in past campaigns but not in these numbers and that, too, self-financed to the extent as the case is in the current campaign,” he said.

“Campaigning in Sarawak is not an inexpensive affair. The logistics alone can take a big chunk out of the wallet,” he added.

Just a few days’ involvement in the Batang Ai campaign can wise up anybody unacquainted with the distances that have to be covered and the costs involved.

What accounts for the large NGO presence?

“They must feel that this is a critical election, otherwise they won’t be here in such numbers,” offered Sidi.

Last three days to be decisive

Like Sidi, many of the Sadia members present in this campaign have personal links to several longhouses in the Batang Ai constituency where they have been involved in work for the community.

These links were forged in connection with work defending the Dayaks’ claim to Native Customary Rights land – disputes over which have roiled the politics of the state in recent years – or work to streamline and codify ‘adat’ – the customs and cultural codes by which the Dayak have lived for centuries.

Sidi would not go into the specifics of how the NGO people have fitted in with the PKR campaign.

“We have to be discreet about certain details because this is a campaign in which venting too much about strategy gives away the fight,” he said.

Discretion being the better part of electoral valour, Sidi observed that the last three days of any campaign in Sarawak are understood to be decisive.

This is when the BN unleashes the full range of their control of administrative machinery and electioneering hardware – the helicopters, the boats and the ‘tuai rumah’ (Iban for longhouse chiefs) – to impact on the results of the vote.

Terence Netto, Mkini

Q&A with Ir Nazir: Nizar answers ‘DAP stooge’ allegation

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

Ousted Perak menteri besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin reveals that he was unfairly targeted over his relationship with DAP leaders. Edited excerpts follow from the second and final part of his interview with

MCPX

Malaysiakini.

Malaysiakini: How would you describe your relationship with Ngeh Khoo Ham and Nga Kor Ming? They have been following you to quite a number of ceramah in Malay areas.

Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin: Yes, YB Ngeh wanted to make use of a golden opportunity which he did not have over his many years being an assemblyman in a Chinese-dominated area. When he was selected as a member of parliament for Beruas, which means now he also has to (be attuned to) Malay voters in Beruas, particularly in Pengkalan Baru. So, I was the only person he would cling to, to achieve that.

So, again, the thinking of the public and the Malays would have been, ‘Look, YB Ngeh is in control of even Nizar. Even in a temple, even in a mosque, even at a Malay upacara…he is there’. You know what I mean?

But, he being a new member of parliament for a Malay area like Beruas, he never had got that exposure before while he the assembly(person) for Sitiawan. It is a highly Chinese area. The fact that he wanted to be with me was because I was the only (channel) for him to (be able to enter a) mosque, for him to come into a (Muslim) religious function.

He sat for a function with me until the end, which no Chinese leaders have done, not even from MCA. I have not seen any MCA leader saying prayers with me in the house of a Malay family, (whose member had died in a blast in a factory).

If Umno leaders want to use this (to attack the PAS-DAP relationship), then people will say that your thinking is still traditional, you are not being contemporary, and you are not up-to-date. I think it is an advantage for us.

YB Ngeh  is a senior exco member. So rightly, if the menteri besar is not (around), then he assumes the position of the acting menteri besar. And in a way, I think what YB Ngeh did is also to changed the mindset of DAP members who, probably due to Umno and Barisan Nasional, fail to understand the Malay culture deep enough.

So what Ngeh has done is actually a sacrifice. To open up the minds of DAP members and supporters. So I think that was a great challenge for him. I think he has gained respect in DAP now, not only in Perak but also in the whole country.

Since he can assume the post of acting menteri besar when needed, does this mean he is your trusted deputy?

Trusted deputy? Definitely, because he – being a member of the House for the last three sessions – is an opposition leader and a very senior lawyer. The trust just builds. And I don’t see that as wrong.

In fact I should be doubling that trust, not only in him but also in a few others who have that same qualification and experience in the House. YB Nga, YB Seah (Leong Peng), YB Thomas (Su)…they have been in the House longer than I have, or more than any PAS assembly(person) for that matter.

Do you blame Ngeh and Nga for having a part in the fall of the Pakatan Rakyat?

No, no. If I do that at all, then it would be very wrong of me.

But there are some quarters who say that they could have prevented (Jelapang state representative) Hee Yit Fong (of DAP) from defecting.

That is very much (an) internal (issue). I do not want to comment. But I have tried to play a role in harmonising all 31 members of the House as a single entity. I have never differentiated them as assembly(persons) or exco members, or (that they are) from PAS or DAP. I treated them (all) the same.

How did you ‘harmonise’ the state representatives during that crucial period in early February when the collapse of the government was imminent? How did you convince them not to defect?

Well, Hee did not actually exhibit any possibility of defecting. During the several short dealings I had with her, there was no indication that she would go to that extent.

And knowing Jelapang (folk) and her traditional Chinese family, that would have been a cardinal sin. So, I did not want to think that way (that she would defect) – unlike (my feelings about) Osman and Jamaluddin, who I had suspected would defect.

I did not think that way due to my association with my Chinese friends in Kampar when I was small. A fight is a fight, and you do not compromise on your principles. That was what I learned from my friends in Kampar. Even in the Chinese business communities that I was involved in, they never say die.

There could be some other factors which changed her mind, I do not know. So when I had that information (that she was defecting), I tried to cool down the (others). One or two of them were saying, ‘Forget her, let’s rule her out’. But I said, ‘No, let us try our best. Can we have a team comprising of persons who are close to YB Hee?’

That was a crucial moment, in early February. I said, ‘Can we have YB Zainuddin, who could talk in a very diplomatic manner, and Dr Lee Boon Chye, assigned to talk to YB Hee?’ I went to that extent, because I thought that maybe she could not get along with the DAP leadership.

Later, I got messages from Pakatan Rakyat leaders, saying that we should not take any more risks because, if after 24 hours, DAP leaders still could not contact her, then something was greatly wrong.

So I took their advice and made a decision, although a few others disagreed. I did not regret that, to seek audience with the Sultan (to seek dissolution of the state assembly).

What was it like when the Osman and Jamaluddin went missing?

(Osman and Jamaluddin was reported ‘missing’ days after Bota state representative Nasarudin Hashim briefly left Umno to PKR on Jan 27. But on Feb 3, Nasarudin rejoined Umno)

It was difficult when the two of them went missing. But at the time, it was not critical because we were being assisted by Nasarudin. When Nasa (left Umno to join us), that gave us a few more days to play. But if Nasa had not moved into Pakatan Rakyat, then I would have been in utter difficulty at that time, because we would have a majority of (just) one at the time.

Would you say that Nasarudin was a Trojan Horse?

I don’t think so, because Nasa left Umno with the sincere interest of leaving a party which is heavily dominated by racists as well as corrupt leaders. And he expounded that, he said that during his press conference.

He was not given any promise by (PKR de facto leader) Anwar (Ibrahim) or me. And I asked him personally, ‘What made you come in?’ Nasa said it was just his pure feeling of maximising his effort, his strength and his service for the people.

Also, of the 28 assembly(persons), he was the only one whom I could single out as someone who showed personal integrity. He did not shout madly and yell abuse like the others. So I could tell from the assembly (proceedings) that he was a respectable man.

Nizar: DAP’s Ngeh a trusted deputy

exclusive

MCPX

Much controversy surrounded Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin during his 11-month tenure as Perak menteri besar over his relationship with the DAP.

During that period, Umno had repeatedly questioned Mohd Nizar’s authority given that Chinese-based DAP had 18 seats in the state assembly and held six of the 10 executive council (exco) posts.

This left only three Malay exco members in – PAS’ Mohd Zainuddin Yusof and PKR’s Jamaluddin Radzi and Osman Jailu. In early February, however, the PKR duo quit their party to become Independents, which contributed to the collapse of the Pakatan Rakyat-led state government.

Under the circumstances, Umno leaders had repeatedly labelled Mohd Nizar a “DAP puppet”, and as being under the control of exco members Ngeh Khoo Ham and Nga Kor Ming.

“Right or wrong, that is a perception which I cannot run away from,” Mohd Nizar told Malaysiakini in an interview at his Ipoh home last Wednesday.

He said this perception stemmed from his numerous public appearances with DAP leaders, for example at the press conference following the weekly exco meeting.

Mohd Nizar claimed that Jamaluddin and Osman were chain-smokers and would disappear after the meetings, leaving him and Zainuddin as the sole Malay representatives.

“By right, Jamaluddin  and Osman should be there because there is a press conference. So (that left Zainuddin and me) with non-Malay exco members.

“So, what can I do? It is a perception I know. But if I do not want my DAP exco members to be there, then I am left alone, which is even more absurd!

“I cannot erase that, can I? I cannot tell Ngeh and Nga, ‘Look you can just sit aside and I will force these three guys (Malay exco members) to be there’. That is not reflective of the real situation”.

Ngeh-Nga factor

Cousins Ngeh and Nga are Perak DAP’s most powerful figures. This led to allegations by Umno leaders, particularly former menteri besar Tajol Rosli, that they were the de facto Perak menteri besar.

Mohd Nizar, however, attributed his close relationship with the duo as due to their years of experience as state legislators. He said he even regards Ngeh, the elder of the two, as his “trusted deputy”.

“Ngeh has been in the House for the last three sessions. He has a lot of experience and is a very senior lawyer. It would be absurd of me and would look stupid of me as a professional not to tap into his resources and experience… Why should I be stupid enough to leave them aside just because they are non-Malays?” he asked.

However, Mohd Nizar said he expects Umno to use the ‘Ngeh-Nga factor’ to the hilt, adding that this is an irrational move for a party that is leading the federal government toward a multiracial Malaysia.

“(Ngeh and Nga’s) only sin is that they are brothers [sic]. Why should we penalise them for that? If Nga’s name is ‘Teoh’ and Ngeh’s name is ‘Chong’, I don’t think they (detractors) would have this perception, would they?”

Andrew Ong & Gabrielle Chong, Mkini

Penang freezes three quarries pending probe

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

The Penang government had suspended the daily operations of three quarries pending a state probe on allegations that these quarries have knowingly underpaid royalty to the state.

The charge levelled at the three quarries – all located in Seberang Prai in mainland – is that they had under-declared their royalty and this have deprived the state of revenue.

The three effected quarries are Kuad Sdn Bhd, Batu Tiga Quarry Sdn Bhd and Saw Chong Teok Quarry Sdn Bhd.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said that the decision to freeze these three quarries was made at the state land committee meeting yesterday.

The suspension takes affect from today.

He added that the state heavily relied on the income from various sectors, including from the quarry industries.

He said the income for the state from the quarries was RM3 for every cubic meter of laterite or stones that they dug out.
“However there has been a dispute on the real amount of royalty paid by the quarries as the money received from these quarry operators was lower than that estimated by the state,” he added.

Lim also said that the state land committee has also appointed state exco member and Bukit Tambun assemblyperson Law Choo Kiang to conduct the investigation.

He hoped the three quarries would give their full co- co-operation to Law’s committee, adding that the suspension would be lifted as soon as the investigation was over.

He did not expect the probe to going on for a long time.

Other quarries warned

Lim also said that Law has been given the full mandate to obtain all relevant documents in regards to the probe.

The chief minister also said that Law will also be looking into a case where the royalty for extracted soil and stones was reduced from RM3 per cubic metre to RM 1.

And he warned that the state government will be pursuing the matter in regards to all the other quarries in the state after the completion of the probe against these three.

The state probe into the three quarries followed claims made by a PKR youth leader Amizudin Ahmat that two party leaders in the state were working with several quarries to cover up illegal activities.

Amizudin claimed that these quarries were cheating on their royalty payments to the state.

Fingers were then pointed at Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, who is also a PKR leader.

He subsequently resigned from his post, effective April 8, and is being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. He denied all corruption allegations. Mkini

Ghost of PBDS hangs over Batang Ai

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on March 31, 2009 by ckchew

Sabah PKR deputy chief Ansari Abdullah’s worst nightmare is that ‘the old and uneducated voters’ of Batang Ai will impose their will again on the younger generation and give Barisan Nasional another victory in the Batang Ai state seat by-election on April 7.

MCPX

Iban illiteracy, pegged at 70 percent or the highest in Malaysia, has generally worked to the advantage of BN in elections except when they faced the Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) in opposition.

“The young have seen their elders bullied and treated no better than slaves in the past half century and have bitter memories about the so-called status quo,” said Ansari, a close confidante of party advisor and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim since the latter’s days in government.

“The question is who will prevail on whom? Will the young bring along their elders for a change at last? Or will their old folks convince the young not to abandon traditional political loyalties.”

“My observation is that it won’t be easy for the Tuai Rumah (longhouse chiefs) this time to bring in the votes for BN. These Tuai Rumah have for so long been a discredited lot especially among the young who see them as government-appointment lackeys.”

Secret meetings with Anwar

Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) supreme council member Tedewin Ngumbang Datu, who has often been accused of being a pro-PKR fence sitter despite open professions of loyalty to party chief James Masing, thinks that the role of the older generation of traditionally pro-government voters in Batang Ai cannot be discounted or taken lightly.

“I am not at all involved in the campaign for Batang Ai,” disclosed Ngumbang in the first signs of a rift within the party. “The party suddenly doesn’t trust me anymore, it seems. It’s okay.”

PRS insiders swear that the finger of suspicion was pointed at Ngumbang after reports ‘leaked out’ that Masing had two secret meetings with Anwar in the wake of the March 8 political tsunami last year.

Relations between Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and Masing reportedly cooled for a while after his purported meeting with Anwar.

Taib even openly urged that PRS merge with Sarawak People’s Democratic Party (SPDP) which Masing saw as a euphemism for ending his political career without washing dirty linen in public.

Masing himself has indignantly denied widely circulating reports that he had been offered RM5 million to join Anwar’s Sept 16 revolution to seize the reins of power in Putrajaya.

In recent days, another storm in a teacup broke out when reports started circulating in Kuching that Masing and Gua Musang MP and former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah had two secret meetings recently. Again, nervous eyes were cast by party leaders in Ngumbang’s direction.

It is not known what Masing and Razaleigh discussed, if at all, but the speculation among the party faithful is the post-Abdullah Ahmad Badawi era figured prominently in the talks, according to a text message received from a credible source by ex-Baram MP, lawyer and green activist Harrison Ngau Laing.

Nevertheless, Ansari’s party comrade in arms, Jeffrey Kitingan, opines that victory in Batang Ai will go to the party that can ultimately ride on “Dayak sentiments and perceptions.”

“This campaign won’t be about Sng Chee Hwa vs James Masing,” said Jeffrey. “Both Bawin and Jawah are working together and it is PKR vs PRS and nothing else. Sng is not in the picture at all and this can only be of advantage to PKR.”

‘PBDS’ demise – Masing is responsible’

PKR’s Jawah Gerang, five times winner in Lubuk Antu, faces PRS Malcolm Mussen Lamoh in a straight fight. Mussen is yet to stand out so far although campaigning has begun in earnest and he stands accused of hiding from the press as well.

“Why is Mussen not talking much? Is it in his nature to be quiet? Government officers in Batang Ai are complaining that he lacks a political character,” said PKR northern Sarawak leader Laing, a conservative, who predicts the outcome is still 50 50.

“The question remains. Whose man is he really? Alfred Jabu’s or Masing’s. Even the late Unting was in reality PBB, never PBDS or PRS. That’s why he got along well with Taib and his deputy Jabu. Unting even collected a coveted Sarawak datukship long before any of his party seniors.”

Independent polls observer Seling Lah disclosed that in Saratok, it was discovered that those below 30 are solidly behind PKR.

“They are coming out with a booklet of all the broken promises and issues concerning government contracts. PKR election operations director Nicholas Bawin is working very hard.”

“Despite what the newspapers have written about Masing being in charge as BN election operations director, the campaign is actually being led by PBB. Masing’s people have no say.”

Both Masing and his secretary-general Wilfred Nissom Rata have gamely tried to depict Batang Ai as a proxy fight between the former and his estranged former deputy Sng after initially raising the prospect of a Sarawak for Sarawakians campaign theme.

“PRS will lose Batang Ai,” fumes PKR activist in Northern Sarawak Paul Raja who was once with PBDS. “Masing is responsible for the demise of PBDS. If we go to the polls today, and there’s no manipulation, PKR will get 70 per cent of the votes cast.” Joe Fernandez, Mkini

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