Talk rife Sarawak polls is near

By Calvin Yeo, The Star

KUCHING: The Sarawak assembly could be dissolved by the middle of this month to pave the way for the 10th state election – this is the latest speculation making its rounds here and in Kuala Lumpur.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud has continued to keep everyone guessing on the date but political parties and the media have stepped up their predictions.

Yesterday, the social media put forth several dates for the dissolution, nomination and polling via Twitter, blogs and even SMS, while politicians on both sides of the divide called each other to compare notes.

Taib has four months left before the current state assembly is automatically dissolved on July 23.

The guess is that the state assembly could be dissolved on March 19, with nominations likely on April 2 and election on April 9.

However, politicians are not ruling out the possibility of Taib stretching his government’s five-year term to the maximum.

During the recent Kuching City South Council Chinese New Year open house, Taib had indicated that “holding the elections within these two or three months is okay for me.”

When asked about the latest speculation, Sarawak United People’s Party president Tan Sri Dr George Chan said anything before July was possible.

“The Chief Minister has asked all of us to be ready. And, we are ready as we have been preparing for the state election for quite some time,” said Dr Chan, who is also deputy chief minister.

State Barisan secretary-general Stephen Rundi said if the election were to be held on April 9 as rumoured, Barisan was “ever ready to go to battle.”

“I am not aware of the dissolution date anyway. It is still up to the Chief Minister when he wants to call for the election but we are ready,” he said.

Parti Rakyat Sarawak president Datuk Sri James Masing, meanwhile, said he had not heard of the latest speculation.

“If it is true that the state assembly will be dissolved on March 19 to pave the way for the election on April 9, then PRS is ready for it,” Masing added.

Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party deputy president Datuk Peter Nyarok said his party was geared up for the election any time.

“We have been ready since last year. We are confident of delivering our seats,” he said.

State DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen said the party did not want to speculate on the election date.

“We will do our best and we are already in full swing and well prepared.

“We will give Barisan a run for its money,” said Chong, who is also Bandar Kuching MP and Kota Sen­tosa assemblyman.

Sarawak National Party secretary-general Stanley Jugol strongly believed that the election would be called by April.

“We have always predicted that the election will be held not beyond April. We are ready for it if it is,” Jugol said.

In the last state election in 2006, the assembly was dissolved on April 24 with nominations on May 9 and polling on May 20.