MUKAH: Chief Minister Adenan Satem is smug on two scores – the thumping Balingian by-election victory last night and the ‘return’ of the Sarawak Chinese community to BN.
Last night following the announcement of the result, he told reporters that he was happy.
He said the results of the 21 polling centres showed a wider acceptance of BN.
He said he was ‘largely’ satisfied to see a bigger acceptance of BN especially in Chinese majority districts.
“The Chinese community has spoken. They are beginning to accept us.
“We used to lose in Mukah town (area) and this time, it is a turn-around.
“We have not only increased the majority but we won in the town area for the first time,” he said.
BN retained its hold on Balingian yesterday with overwhelming majority of 6,911 votes.
BN candidate Yussibnosh Balo, 48 polled 8,194 votes while PKR’s Abdul Jalil Bujang, 55 obtained 1,283 votes.
The seat fell vacant after its incumbent and former chief minister Taib Mahmud stepped down to take up the post of state governor. Taib had held the seat since 2001.
In the last state election Taib retained the seat by a 5,154 vote majority in a three cornered fight. It was understood that his win hinged on Melanau and Iban support.
The Chinese began deserting the Taib-influenced Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) in 2006.
In the 2011 state election the frustrated community chose to kill-off SUPP and voted in opposition DAP in 13 Chinese majority seats.
In the last year’s general election SUPP also lost all but one parliamentary seat to DAP.
Adenan, who succeeded Taib, inherited the political baggage and has made it his top priority to find a solution to the problem.
In the run-up to the Balingian by-election, he said the Chinese community were fed up with squabbling leaders and urged SUPP to put party interest before self.
He even staged a ‘handshake’ between the faction leaders Wong Soon Koh, who is a senior minister in his cabinet, and controversially-elected SUPP president Peter Chin.
But barely 48 hours after, SUPP Bintagor branch issued a statement question the sincerity of Chin’s peace overtures when his Central Working Committee (CWC) had issued a letter sacking a Thomas Hii, key member of Wong’s team.
Hii is the latest leader in Wong’s faction to face disciplinary action from the CWC.
On the eve of that symbolic handshake in Mukah witnessed by Adenan, three members of SUPP’s Sarikei branch – Chan Phan Chan, Sia Jii Ming and Kapitan Wong Yew Nung – were sacked by the council.
Meanwhile speculations are rife that Adenan may now seek to bring forward state elections due in 2016.
A political observer said, the “splendid” majority would inspire Adenan to do all the “necessary tweaking quickly” and set the agenda for state polls.
“There’s a lot of rumours about his health, (and) not being able to lead the state.
“He showed he can. He spent many days in Mukah campaigning in Iban and Chinese areas.
“This victory is his. PBB has kept its word on the candidate. He’s sent Najib (Razak) a message,” said the observer from PBB, alluding to the ‘longstanding agreement’ with the Mukah Melanau community that at least one elected representative in the parliamentary constituency be a Christian.
Balingian and Dalat are two state seats within the Mukah parliamentary constituency. Dalat assemblyman is Fatimah Abdullah a Muslim and Mukah MP is Leo Michael Toyad a Muslim convert.
On the eve of the by-election Adenan had reiterated the state’s stand on the contentious issue of the use of the term “Allah” by Christians.
He said his administration will “not permit” such a law in Sarawak.
“There is no law in Sarawak that says you cannot use the word ‘Allah’, and I will not permit such a law in Sarawak as long as I am the chief minister.
“That is the way it ought to be. You are at liberty to practise your religion in your own way,” he reportedly said in Mukah.
Noting this, the observer said Adenan was now in a firm position to reiterate the status quo of agreements made within Sarawak and between state and federal.