Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sibu by-election, DAP wins by 398-vote majority

Announced at 11pm, Sunday 16 May 2010 at Dewan Suarah Sibu.

DAP's Wong Ho Leng won the P212 Sibu by-election by 398 votes, garnering 18,845 votes to beat BN's Robert Lau Hui Yew (18,447). Independent Narawi Haron polled 232 votes and promptly lost his deposit.

It was a huge setback for the mighty BN, who hoped to retain the Sibu seat and after having won another by-election - the Hulu Selangor Parliamentary constituency, barely a month ago on 25 April 2010.

Despite relentless campaigns and the presence of BN super-heavyweights including the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the 3 UMNO Vice Presidents, the long serving Sarawak Chief Minister as well as other prominent figures, and huge media support, the BN failed to retain Sibu who has a majority of Chinese Foochows voters.

As for the Pakatan Rakyat especially DAP, winning the Sibu by-election is critical and crucial to reverse the recent losses of Pakatan Rakyat members of parliament, and serve as a critical launchpad for the second tsunami for change in the upcoming Sarawak state elections, as well as the 13th General Elections.

The Sibu contest was between Barisan Nasional and DAP, but it quickly narrowed down to a fight between the DAP and SUPP, or the Sarawak United People's Party.

SUPP is still smarting over the inroads made by DAP in the last state elections whereas DAP, emboldened by its 2006 wins, is hungry to add another notch to its belt.

The BN won in the rural areas encompassing the Ibans and Dayaks Long houses or Rumah Panjang and the Kampung Melayu, but failed to get enough support from the urban Chinese.

Maybe the perenial flooding problems in Sibu as well as other macro issues, refrained the voters from voting BN. The low voters turn-out may be a contributing factor too.

Except for the lone independent candidate, it was hard to predict which candidates, BN or DAP, had the upperhands from Day One. It was 50-50 all the way from nomination day, right up to polling day.

Either BN campaigns or DAP campaigns, both drew huge crowds, some numbering more than 10,000 people who thronged to listen to the ceramahs, speeches and campaigns.

Political observers had predicted that DAP would make Tan Sri Taib Mahmud and his family's vast business empire the No. 1 issue. But according to Joceline Tan of the Star, DAP does not seem to be pushing the limits where the Chief Minister is concerned. “Peh Ma” (white-haired), as he is known in Foochow, is still an issue especially among the Chinese but in a rather tired way.

They did poke fun at Sibu's 28-storey Wisma Sanyan which is also Sarawak's tallest building, claiming that “no one dares build anything higher.” The controversial building belongs to Taib's younger brother Datuk Tufail Mahmud.

Religion was the flash point of the campaign.

DAP's Lim Kit Siang started it by daring SUPP to take a stand on the Allah issue which is still pending in the courts.

SUPP's Sibu warlord Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh returned the volley saying that “a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS and the Islamic state.”

Meanwhile some ponders wether Robert Lau Hui Yew lacked the charisma of his predecessor, the late Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew??

Why did the Sibu voters showed no appreciation whatsoever to the huge development funds and financial assistance, announced by BN leaders to them?

Did they forget that RM65 million was announced by the PM to help finance the Chinese School in and around Sibu?

What more are they expecting?? What exactly do they want??

Did Lim Kit Siang, Karpal Singh, Wong Ho Leng, Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Guan Eng, Chong Chieng Jen, Nizar Jamaluddin, Nga Kor Ming, Violet Yong, Ting Tze Fui and other Pakatan Leaders had much more charisma, x-factors and crowd pulling antics than their BN nemesis??

Well, the battle of Sibu has been a hard-fought campaign, punch for punch and barb for barb.

According to the star, for the first time in a long while, the proxy scenario was not Najib vs Anwar or Umno vs PAS.

The battle for Sibu is not only about who is most capable of taking Sibu to Parliament but also which party can best represent the Chinese in Sarawak.

The air has been filled with charges and counter-charges. DAP calls for change; Barisan claims changes are already taking place; DAP counter-claims that change comes with reform. And the exchange of words rolls on.

Sibu residents say they have never experienced an election as contentious and exciting as this.

Then came the acroynm Sibu Sibuk (Busy Sibu)!!

The total number of registered voters in Sibu are 54,695. However only 32,742 or 59.86 % voters cast their ballots.

Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said he was not satisfied with the turnout, which was lower than the 67% recorded in the 2008 general election.

In the 2008 general election, Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew (BN) retained the Sibu seat with a 3,549-vote majority, beating Wong Ho Leng of DAP and Lim Chin Chuang of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in a 3-cornered fight.

The by-election was called following the death of Hoi Chew who was also Deputy Transport Minister on April 9.

This result means there is a reversal of almost 4,000 votes against BN and the ruling federal and state government needs to look at these factors that contributed to the electoral defeat.

We know that urban areas are tough for the BN to win, judging from past elections results. Look at the Polictical Tsunami of 2008, apart from taking over 4 states - Kedah, Perak, Penang and Selangor, the Pakatan Rakyat recorded landslide wins in majority of urban areas such as Wangsa Maju, Bukit Bintang, Lembah Pantai and Kota Kinabalu.

And so is Sibu.

Watch out for the 13th General Election - Lim Kit Siang said the current PM will not be PM on that day, but as Opposition leader??? Well, just wait and see...

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