Minority Malay Votes Vital In Batang Ai

(Bernama) – Malays who make up only 117 out of the 8,006 registered voters in Batang Ai could be the determining factor in the by-election for this rural constituency.

Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) Youth chairman Fadillah Yusof told Bernama Tuesday that every vote from this minority community was vital following anticipation that the by-election would be closely fought.

"In fact, (the chance to win in) Batang Ai has been 50-50 ever since the last election. Nobody can claim that this is a safe seat. That is why we are taking this (efforts to woo Malay votes) seriously," he said when met at Kampung Melayu here.

The Iban form the majority of voters registered in this constituency numbering 7,608 or 95.03 per cent but political observers expect their support would be split between the BN and PKR.

BN has fielded a new face, Malcolm Mussen Lamoh to face a veteran politician, Jawah Gerang, from PKR in this by-election that has been called following the demise of its incumbent Datuk Dublin Unting Ingkot on Feb 24 this year.

In the last state election in 2006, Unting won the seat by a slim majority of 806 votes after he polled 3,295 votes against 2,489 garnered by Nicholas Bawin Anggat, who was then contesting as a Sarawak National Party (SNAP) candidate.

Bawin who later joined PKR was initially tipped to contest again in this by-election but eventually had to give way to Jawah, who was the Lubok Antu Member of Parliament for five terms between 1987 and 2008.

Fadillah, who is also the Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Youth Chief, said the Malays, who had shown solid support to Barisan Nasional here in the past elections, would not be swayed away by PKR's tactics this time of bringing in their Malay leaders from Peninsular Malaysia to campaign.

"They (Malay voters in Batang Ai) share the BN sentiment and are confident that the BN is the only party that is really fighting for the people despite all the psy-war and campaigning by the other side (PKR)," he added.