Friday, January 21, 2022

Race heats up in fight for Pujut seat

Seen as a DAP stronghold, Pujut will witness a five-way fight come Dec 18.

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The Pujut state seat has been vacant since February when its incumbent, Dr Ting Tiong Choon of DAP, was disqualified for having dual nationality, namely Australian and Malaysian citizenship, contravening Article 17(1)(g) of the Sarawak State Constitution.

At the 12th Sarawak election on Dec 18, the hot seat will see a five-cornered fight involving candidates from DAP, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB), Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) and Parti Aspirasi Rakyat Sarawak.

Since wresting the seat from Barisan Nasional-Sarawak United People’s Party (BN-SUPP) at the 10th election in 2011 through its candidate Fong Pau Teck, DAP has made Pujut its stronghold, defending it in the last election in 2016.

In the election this time, DAP is pinning its hopes on Sarawak DAP secretary Alan Ling Sie Kiong to ensure that the Pujut seat “taken” from it following the court ruling in February, finds its way back to the party.

Ling is no stranger to Sarawak political observers. As a 28-year-old, he caused a sensation in the 10th election when he brought down the “giant” of Sarawak politics then – Deputy Chief Minister George Chan Hong Nam – in the Piasau constituency.

Ling however failed to defend the Piasau seat in the 2016 election, conceding defeat to BN-SUPP candidate Sebastian Ting Chiew Yew.

“Democracy is an ongoing process. My hope is that the political landscape in Sarawak is more balanced between the opposition and the government, so that we can fight for the welfare of the people,” Ling told Bernama.

Ling and DAP can expect a tough task in defending the Pujut seat in the state election this time as GPS is fielding Adam Yii Siew Sang, a well-known figure among the people of Miri.

Yii, 65, who has held the post of Miri mayor since 2016 and is chairman of Pujut SUPP, has been tasked by GPS to end DAP’s two-term domination in Pujut.

At a recent press conference online, Yii said the residents of Pujut deserved to enjoy better quality of life and expressed confidence that the voters there were mature enough to make a wise choice.

“This is not about who I am, but about the fate of the people of Pujut… about welfare, infrastructure, basic necessities and the surrounding neighbourhood. These must be prioritised so that everyone can lead a better life,” he said.

Meanwhile, PSB is fielding Bruce Chai Khim Cheong, 48, who served as a councillor in the Miri city council in 2015.

One of the main issues he will fight for, should he be elected, is to create employment opportunities to prevent Pujut youths from migrating elsewhere in search of jobs.

“Yes, the Pujut constituency is in an urban area and has all the facilities. However, its biggest problem is that it is difficult for the people to earn a living. The policy of providing ample job opportunities needs to be given serious attention,” he said.

The other two candidates for the Pujut constituency, which has 27,567 registered voters, are legal adviser Leslie Ting Siong Ngiap, 39, of PBK and Sarawak for Sarawakians movement founder Chin Fen Siong of Aspirasi.

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