BN, opposition supporters protest choice of candidates

By Michael Kaung, Free Malaysia Today

SANDAKAN: Tensions erupted yesterday over the choice of the Barisan Nasional (BN) and PKR candidates for the Batut Sapi parliamentary by-election on Nov 4.

Waving BN flags, about 500 members of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) members from the Sekong division of the party protested the nomination of Linda Tsen Thau Lin, the widow of Edmund Chong Ket Wah for the seat.

The protesters, who arrived in several buses, unfurled banners demanding a BN Muslim Bumiputera candidate be fielded much to the consternation of Chief Minister Musa Aman and PBS president Joseph Pairin Kitinagan who were announcing the BN’s candidate for the by-election.

The PBS supporters said that they were unhappy with the party’s choice, claiming Chong had not been looking after the welfare of the Muslim Bumiputeras in the constituency since he was first elected in 2004.

“How can a woman go into Muslim areas and find out about us; we live in the water villages… no outsider, especially a woman, would dare go there,” said one protester.

“They held up banners saying that a Muslim Bumiputera candidate should be nominated for the seat,” said an observer.

However, Sekong assemblyman Samsudin Yahya, who was close by, was seen to talking to the protesters who subsequently removed their banners and dispersed.

Unpopular Ansari

Pakatan Rakyat’s candidate Ansari Abdullah was also given a baptism of fire when his name was announced by Pakatan de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Batu Sapi PKR supporters walked out as Anwar began announcing that the party had picked Ansari, the Tuaran PKR division chief, to contest the seat.

The Batu Sapi PKR supporters had apparently expected that Sabah PKR liaison chief Ahmad Thamrin Zaini would be named their candidate for the seat.

A crowd of about 1,000 Pakatan supporters had packed the Hakka Association hall to hear the name of PKR’s candidate for Batu Sapi.

When Anwar finally announced at about 5.15pm yesterday during a PAS-organised seminar on Sabah land rights that Kota Kinabalu-based lawyer Ansari would be the choice, the crowd started to disperse in large numbers.