Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Who Will Take Sibu?

Hantu Laut

This is Foochows' country.

This town was founded in 1900 by a Foochow from China, a Mr Wong Nai Siong who was given the right by the White Rajah to set up settlement for his clan.It has the highest concentration of Foochows in Malaysia and predominate the population in Sibu.

The parliamentry seat is presently under BN.The late Robert Lau has held the MP seat since 1990 defeating DAP's candidate at every elections since then.The chart below shows the results of past elections.

Parliament of Malaysia: Sibu, Sarawak[5]
Barisan Nasional Votes Pct
Opposition Votes Pct
Robert Lau (SUPP) 11,914 54%
Ling Sie Ming (DAP) 9,906 45%
Robert Lau (SUPP) 15,317 56%
Wong Ho Leng (DAP) 10,472 38%
Robert Lau (SUPP) 23,227 60%
Wong Sing Nang (DAP) 14,085 37%
Robert Lau (SUPP) 20,501 54%
Wong Ho Leng (DAP) 17,161 45%
Robert Lau (SUPP) 19,138 53%
Wong Ho Leng (DAP) 15,903 44%

DAP many attempts to wrestle the seat from BN failed.In March 2008, while the wind of change blew profusely in Peninsula Malaysia, the political storm did not reach Sarawak.

BN's Robert Lau polled 19,138 votes giving him a majority of 3,235 votes against DAP's Wong Ho Leng. Both DAP and PKR from Pakatan Rakyat fielded candidates and lost.DAP last won the seat in 1982.

DAP will be announcing the name of its candidate today.The BN has settled on Robert Lau Hui Yew, a cousin of the late Robert Lau and son of the wealthy and influential Lau Swee Nguong, Chairman of KTS group, a conglomerates headquartered in Sibu.

With backing of the KTS group, its influence and business tentacles, DAP would have to put up a good fight to capture the seat once again.

BN has the edge.

Also read:
By-election Defeat for Malaysia’s Opposition


Purple Haze said...

Once again, money has the edge ... unfortunately but that's reality.

Not another Robert Lau said...

Who will take Sibu? SUPP. The personal factor cannot be discounted. Robert Lau was a popular politician, although he did have his fair share of critics, including many in his own constituency. After his demise, what did the SUPP do? Choose another candidate with the name "Robert Lau" of course, to leverage on his brand name. To boot, the late Robert Lau and the later Robert Lau are relatives too. To ensure victory, Taib Mahmud, who has a widespread reputation in Sarawak as a massively corrupt politician, will throw everything but the kitchen sink at Sibu (knowing Taib, he might throw in the kitchen sink too... or several of them).

That said, there are several imponderables which might tilt the balance over to the DAP (I say "tilt", implying that if the DAP won, it would be by a slight margin, perhaps by a couple hundred votes or so):

1) The spillover effect from the 2008 BN debacle in West Malaysia.
2) The DAP has warmed up at Hulu Selangor, and is now raring to go at Sibu: the closeness in time is helpful here.
3) The Pakatan's defeat at Hulu Selangor might give them the incentive to work even harder at Sibu.
4) The Iban factor: increasingly, they are siding with PKR and with the Pakatan as a whole.

However, some imponderables might work the other way:

1) Picking the last point above first, the PKR alliance might be a liability rather than an asset: this is one area in Malaysia where the PKR views itself as a rival to the DAP, and not as a complete friend (remember Sibu in 2008?). Although their relationship has improved, there are still many rough edges that have not been smoothened.
2) The perception of the DAP as a Chinese party, which may affect their standing with the non-Chinese constituents (well, to counter this, the SUPP is also perceived as a Chinese party, although perhaps less strongly associated than the DAP).
3) The perception of the DAP, unlike the SUPP, as a "semenanjung" party (a sensitive issue in Sarawak politics). Granted, the DAP, for a long while (until the recent emergence of PKR in the Sarawak political landscape) was the only party originally from the West which has successfully penetrated Sarawak. But the lingering perception that it is still too closely associated with the West, still remains.

Which way will the wind blow? As I've said it's still with the SUPP. But who knows where the wind across the South China Sea will blow in the next week or so? So a DAP victory by a narrow margin cannot be ruled out.

chapchai said...

Sibu is Foochow Land, and the Foochows go where money is to be made. Therefore Sibu will be retained by BN at the upcoming by-election.

eddy said...

I have been to Sibu only once, and one thing for sure it is Foo Chow land so maybe mr. chapchai prediction is right, don't know what the majority will be though as the politics and the political objectives in Sarawak are not entirely the same as in the peninsular.