Sarawak BN Finalising List Of Candidates

(Bernama) – Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) is finalising its list of candidates for the impending state election. Sarawak BN chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said he was waiting for the state BN component parties to finalise their candidate list for the coming state election.

“I’m waiting for the other party leaders to make their own assessment (candidate to contest in the coming state election),” he told reporters at the Hari Raya Open House held at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching here.

Taib, who is the president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera (PBB), the backbone of Sarawak BN, said he has identified 70 per cent of the candidates for the coming state election.

In PBB, he said new faces would replace few incumbents who have “volunteered to go out”.

Among those who have volunteered were former assistant tourism minister Hamden Ahmad, who is the incumbent for Belawai and former assistant minister in the chief minister’s office, Bolhasan Di (incumbent for Beting Maro).

The state BN component parties namely PBB, Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) took 71 seats in the 2006 state election.

In the last election, PBB took control of 35 seats, SUPP (11 seats), PRS eight and SPDP eight seats.

Meanwhile, SUPP’s president, Tan Sri Dr George Chan said 30 per cent of the party’s candidates would be new faces.

Dr Chan, who is also the Deputy Chief Minister, said the party would field young professional candidates to wrest back the lost seats.

SUPP lost eight of the 19 seats it contested in the 2006 state election.

It was the party worst defeat.

For PRS, its party president Datuk Seri Dr James Masing said the party would have a 30 per cent change in candidates in the election.

Masing, who is also the Land Development Minister, said the party would field a new face for Ngemah seat, which was won by independent candidate, Gabriel Adit ( left )who defeated PRS’s candidate, Alexander Vincent, in the last election.

Earlier, SPDP’s president, Datuk Seri William Mawan had said the party would retain all eight incumbents to defend their seats in the coming election.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud also disclosed today that he met Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) president Tan Sri Dr George Chan on Thursday and had “an exchange of opinion” with him.

Taib said the meeting went well and that Dr Chan had told him that SUPP would not leave the Barisan Nasional (BN).

“We had an exchange of opinion, details of which I wouldn’t want to reveal. I had given him my perspective of how the Chinese perceive problems and how we can bring them to work with other races,” he told reporters here.

Taib said he had also urged Dr Chan to find new ways to engage the Chinese community and to explain to them the government’s ideas and aspirations.

“If they don’t understand these ideas, they cannot participate in the development and they will be left behind,” he said.

Taib said he had striven to help the Chinese community in the state.

“I have helped the Chinese in general way. Don’t tell me that the Chinese have not benefited from our general prosperity,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Chan said Taib was supportive on many issues affecting the Chinese, including the need to assist Chinese schools and on the land premium rebate issue.

“With the strong support from the Chief Minister, and the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, we hope that the state election will be easier for SUPP,” he said.

SUPP’s position in the state BN became the subject of speculation after several grassroots members said that there would be no purpose for the party to remain in the Sarawak BN if issues facing the Chinese community remained unresolved.