Of the three showdowns, Batang Ai is the most critical

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1229: Sarawak – My other contact in the state reports:

Of the three by-election campaigns now underway, the most critical is that of Batang Ai in Sarawak.

Bukits Gantang and Selambau are both PR seats and their retaining those seats – although extremely critical – will reflect the electorate’s referendum on Umno’s recent assembly and how Umno undermined constitutional governance in Perak. PR winning both seats would only restore the status-quo ex-ante between both coalitions in Semenanjong. It goes without saying that losing any one or both of the seats would be a major blow to PR.

Batang Ai, however, is a whole different ballgame. Sarawak has long provided a crucial ‘fixed deposit’ of parliamentary seats to the BN thanks to local strongman and CM Abdul Taib Mahmud’s iron grip over patronage in the state! Any PR electoral inroads in Sarawak would pose a serious threat to the BN nation-wide, far bigger than if PR merely retained both Bukits in Semenanjong. Hence, BN’s determination to retain Batang Ai at all costs. Already, everything at the BN’s disposal – including instant noodles and the kitchen sink – has been thrown into the contest.

Batang Ai has long been a BN seat. Although the BN candidate is a local unknown, he has the massive BN machinery to help him win. The PR candidate is a popular five-term former BN MP who, after being dropped by the BN in 2008 given local party conflicts, has since moved his politics and his longhouse into PR. Campaigning together with the popular Batang Ai PKR division chief, they collectively pose a clear and present electoral danger to the BN.

Currently, throughout Sarawak there is deep anger and widespread antipathy among native Bumiputeras towards Abdul Taib Mahmud’s family’s corporate shenanigans. These Mahmud-linked companies enrich themselves and other BN cronies at the expense of native lands and livelihoods. As well, Batang Ai folk, many of whom were resettled by the Batang Ai dam 23 years ago, have been largely neglected and shortchanged by the BN ever since.

In the 2006 state election, the BN candidate only won by a mere 806 votes out of 5,784 total votes cast. Given the rising popularity of PKR in Batang Ai and throughout Sarawak, CM Abdul Taib Mahmud has to win – and win emphatically – to prove to big brother Umno that he still has what it takes for the state to continue grabbing native Bumiputera land and to preserve BN corporate interests. But, only if he wins BIG given the amount of resources and money the BN has already thrown and will continue to pour into the contest. Anything less and Abdul Taib Mahmud’s justifications to continue in office as manager of the BN’s ‘fixed deposit’ of parliamentary seats in Sarawak will be tenuous in the eyes of Umno. An ominous thought certainly for Taib Mahmud and his family!

Consequently, Batang Ai is a by-election in which the BN has everything to lose while PKR has everything to play for given their long-term game plan.

1222: Bukit Selembau –  A record 13 independent candidates have been accepted along with the BN and PKR candidates. It is difficult to gauge the crowd size from the centre as vegetation blocks the view. But loud roars can be heard indicating large crowds. Three or four of the independent candidates appear to have sizeable entourages, but not as many as the two main candidates, with the crowd estimated at 10,000.

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1216: Bukit Gantang – It’s a three-way fight here, with an independent joining the fray. There’s a huge crowd of 30,000-50,000, including some 2,000 ethnic Indian Pas supporters. Pakatan supporters easily outnumber the 6,000-odd BN supporters. The Pakatan supporters at a field nearby performed a ‘Mexican wave”. There was some tension and yelling when the Bagan Dato Adun from the BN mistakenly walked into the Pakatan area, but thankfully nothing happened. Overall, it’s been a festive atmosphere.

1146: Batang Ai – It’s all over. It’s a straight fight between BN and PKR. Supporters are slowly leaving.

1005: Batang Ai – An interesting development: A group of Pas supporters marches in and immediately 16 of their flags are confiscated. Dominique intervenes and Mafrel protests. After discussion with the CID head, the flags are returned. The candidates are still in the hall. It is scorching hot here. The SPR is close to making an announcement now and calling for objections, if any.

0933: Batang Ai – Malcom Mussen arrives with 1,000 supporters including Taib Mahmud and Peter Chin. PKR candidate also arrives, led by Khalid Ibrahim. Both candidates are in the hall now. Khalid bravely walks into the lions’ den and has tea with Taib Mahmud, Peter Chin, Dompok and Masing. The crowd has swelled with the BN side having 3,000 while PKR has 5,000.

0910: Bukit Selambau – PKR and BN supporters have been kept apart on the route to the centre. Dense vegetation separates the two sets of supporters on the roads to the centre, which lies in a park. The PKR candidate is already at the centre. Nine independent candidates have shown up. Waiting for the BN candidate to show up.

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0908: Bukit Gantang – Thousands here. Prayers for goodwill. All PR parties represented.

o855: Batang Ai – Waiting for the candidates to arrive. An independent candidate might be joining the fray. A helicopter hovers overhead. BN supporters number around 500, while the Pakatan supporters are easily five times more and their number keeps increasing. Both sides engage in a war of words. But everything is orderly and the atmosphere, festive.

0822: Bukit Gantang – Festive mood in Taiping, reports my other contact. Buses with PKR supporters heading in. BN needs a miracle to win here.

0809: Batang Ai – Our arrival at the Lubuk Antu sports complex is greeted by a long line of FRU and police personnel. PKR and BN banners are already in the padang. A contingent of DAP supporters has marched in. PKR supporters are supporting “Reformasi n tiga kosong!” One single Pas flag seen among a sea of PKR and DAP flags.

0737: Batang Ai –  My contact reports he is leaving the longhouse now for the nomination centre. In the area are about 500 people from out nearby towns, Sabah and the peninsula. Some of them had come to Bawin’s longhouse after the ceramah for a late night dinner. Imagine slaughtering chicken at 11.00pm! About 200 slept over. A few drank ijok and langkau until 4.00am. Will talk about Iban hospitality later. Huge jam ahead.

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JamesKJohn QAndrew I aka the bored pensionerkarma Recent comment authors
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James
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James

I’ve never been to Sarawak and Sabah but I’ve several friends from East Malaysia. My friends told me that they dislike Semanjung Malaysian because we bring them racist politics to their community. They told me that at their states they’re not as divided as us. It’s sad that racism is the only thing we export to them. I only hope that Sarawakian can vote for PKR to show BN politician their angered towards their racist politics. If their anger is not shown in Batang Ai election, BN will continue destroy their beautiful culture. Hence, I hope Sarawakian will support PKR… Read more »

K
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K

Well it would be indeed interesting to see what would the PR leaders and cheerleaders will say when Nizar loses in BG. Would that be considered that Perakian do not accept PR’s claim to be the legitimate govt of Perak ? Would they drop all their claims and Siva tender his resignation ? Would Nga and Ngeh finally stop issuing idiotic press statements ? Would Anwar accept the blame for causing the state govt’s collapse ??

John Q
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John Q

Actually…one of the main reasons the PR crowds are more then usual is because….no Malaysian in his right mind could take the massive nausea following the UMNO assembly’s usual gathering of….

Malaysians will take this country back from the UMNO … who have (plundered) this country beyond recognition….

History books must be rewritten to tell children how UMNO (has done this)…

Where are those spineless MCA, MIC , Gerakan b….. who helped them…

Andrew I aka the bored pensioner
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Andrew I aka the bored pensioner

Thought I’d add the above aka to my pseudonym because I’m actually quite flattered that I could be perceived as someone beyond his years based on my comments.

It was quite funny to watch the man himself hedging his bets on telly last night in the event that they lose these by-elections.

To wandererAUS, maybe we could suggest to PR that they use the Beatles’ hit Can’t buy me love as their theme song.

karma
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karma

The sentiment on the ground indicates a very posiitve sign for PR in the 2 Bukits. Thrilled to see a multi-racial supporters massively giving support to PR. There were many from all races waving PAS flags drowning the BN supporters. A good sign for Malaysian solidarity if this is any indicator to race relations in the country. In Bukit Gantang, PR waves were too huge to be subdued by BN supporters. If this is any indicator, Nizar will win big. Bukit Selambau saw a storm in a tea cup among PR supporters. Surprised though to see now a multi-racial crowd… Read more »

wandererAUS
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wandererAUS

If there is a will, there is a way…the signs for Change is promising. Sawarakians wake up, tell these BN… , money can’t buy my love!

Ken
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Ken

I think … Iban will be even poorer in 2030.

Mata Kuching
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Mata Kuching

Malaysians in Sarawak shall be witnessing the beginning of the end of the Melanau Empire. In 28 years, Taib has made himself (among the) richest men in the Asia Pacific region and every single member of his family is (wealthy as well). The Dayaks in Batang Ai will go down in history by plotting his downfall and take all the money Taib and Barisan are throwing at them . More than RM70 million worth of projects have been announced and (almost) every door in every longhouses have been promised between RM500 to RM1,000 under the pretext of fund for repairing… Read more »

Kenny
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Kenny

In Batang Ai, two opposing socio-economic factors have come to a boil – the marginalization of the Dayak and Taib’s iron political grip on the state. This is a test of whether the Dayak can break away from the cunningly crafted web of money, promises, blackmail and threats that has bind them to Taib and kept them powerless for so long. The psychological impact of a Batang Ai win for PR will send shockwaves throughout the whole state and start an unstoppable momentum for the coming state elections. It is a crack that may shatter the whole pane of glass.… Read more »

Ipoh-Kia
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Ipoh-Kia

Thanks for the updates again. Good to see crowds of supporter…hopefully it translate into votes.

I see no logic having RECORD 15 candidates at Bkt Selambau. Izzit the M’sian book of records?

Thank god..it went smoothly.

chong
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chong

wake up, sarawakians!!! …
btw, all righteous malaysians must participate!!!
anil, pls tell us how we can contribute!!!

nicus
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nicus

Dont buy too much vote on distant promises , By time you are long gone.

Dont listen to rhetoric messages and just do what you gonna to do.
Good or Bad , changes is wahe we need.

JUST DO IT FOR DEMOCRACY. IT’S NOW OR NEVER BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE TO BE SAVED.

Antares
Guest

People of Sarawak, you have the POWER to end the overlong misrule of the … in White! My heart goes out to all those who have been ridden roughshod over for so many decades by the arrogant & greedy … BN.

Jay
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Jay

People of Batang Ai,

The 2 Bukits win for PR is least sweet compare to Batang Ai. People of Batang Ai, a win can make a rejim fall. Do it, do it. You people will be the talk of the whole Malaysian, yes even the whole world.

Native
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Native

Hi Anil,

Thanks for the good work. We will continue reading from abroad…

Batang Ai – this is your time, show the evil ones that the PEOPLE POWER CAN make changes; they have been so arrogant all these years -Sabah will follow suit…

Take care…

rentakjari
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rentakjari

thnx anil

Kenny
Guest
Kenny

Batang Ai will be an epic battle even more important than the two Bukits. PR is up against the money, might and machinery of BN. Taib has held this state in his grip for so long, a win by PR in this David vs. Goliath battle means a seachange in Sarawak politics. It will sound the death knell for the Taib regime.

sm chong
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sm chong

Dear Anil

Glad that you are reporting live again x plse keep those staying/working in China update x tks

Penangite
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Penangite

Batang Ai people…please do not take Taib’s statement that ‘Sarawak will be the richest state come 2030’. All these push forward dates are just meant to hoodwink the Rakyat. Examples…1) vision 2020…what happen? now BN leaders no longer harp on 2020 beacause they know in the first place it cannot happen…just to buy votes. 2) semi-value say they parliament building after the repair work can last at least another 150 years!!! ….reason is he will no longer live in this world….but god has a way to show his might…another leak occurs during semi-value lifetime….and another reason offered.