BN sends out SOS to secure non-Iban votes
BATANG AI: The Sarawak Barisan Nasional is enlisting the help of component parties to secure the crucial Chinese and Malay votes for the Batang Ai by-election.
It has become obvious that the non-Ibans are the decisive factor in this Iban-majority constituency.
There are some 500 Chinese and Malays from the 8,006 registered voters for this remote seat.
The Star learnt that the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) has been told by Barisan to convince the Chinese in Batang Ai to give their votes to Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), the Barisan component party which is being challenged by PKR.
The PBB (Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu) must secure the Malay votes too, the coalition’s leaders said during a meeting to discuss the latest issues relating to the campaigning.
The Chinese and Malays are mostly based in the Lubok Antu district which has 759 voters.
PKR’s Jawah Gerang, the former Lubok Antu MP for 25 years, is challenging PRS’ Malcolm Mussen Lamoh for this seat with a 95% Iban electorate.
An SUPP leader from the party’s Sri Aman division (90km from Lubok Antu) was also told to go to Batang Ai to help out.
“It is going to be tough to convince the Chinese voters because they had traditionally been split in their support for Barisan and the opposition.
“SUPP is trying to convince them that they will not gain anything by voting against Barisan Nasional,” he said.
A source said Barisan’s leaders are worried because the Ibans in many interior settlements in Batang Ai have shown mixed response to the campaign efforts by Barisan workers.
Meanwhile, PRS vice-president Datuk Billy Abit Joo felt that voters would support Barisan, thanks to the hard work put in by Mussen.
“Judging from what we have seen, I think we have a very good chance of turning the people around to support Barisan,” said Abit, the Hulu Rajang MP, who had been accompanying Mussen on visits to longhouses in Ulu Engkari and Ulu Lemanak.
“They were very happy to see us at their place and that they are being taken seriously,” he said.