Thursday, February 20, 2014

‘State polls could be as early as Sept this year’

Posted on February 20, 2014, Thursday

KUCHING: State PKR chief Baru Bian predicts that the 11th state election will be held sometime between September this year and September next year.

He told a press conference yesterday that his crystal-ball reading was based on the fact that new leaders would normally want a fresh mandate from the people as soon as possible.

“That time frame would be (considered) reasonable for them (leaders) to prepare themselves.”

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Satem is scheduled to succeed Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud as Sarawak’s fifth chief minister this coming Feb 28.

The current term of the State Legislative Assembly expires on June 20, 2016, but the chief minister has the prerogative to dissolve the august House earlier. On PKR’s candidate for the state seat of Balingian in the event a by-election is called should Taib, who is Balingian assemblyman, vacate the seat to become the new Yang di-Pertua Negeri as widely speculated, Baru said it was “a little premature” to reveal their potential candidates now.

Baru, who is also Ba Kelalan assemblyman, said it would also be “very dangerous” to do so because Taib had not resigned as Balingian assemblyman.

“We have not heard of the official resignation of the chief minister, so I think it is a little premature to announce the (potential) candidates.”

Baru was only prepared to state that their preference was to field a local and, if possible, a Melanau, and that the two candidates recommended to the party were “acceptable and reasonable people”.

When pressed to comment on speculation that Suriati Abdullah was one of their potential candidates for Balingian, Baru replied, “I remember the party and I have not named anybody so far. I only mentioned that two names had been recommended to us.”

In the 10th state election in April 2011, there was a three-cornered fight in Balingian involving Taib, Suriati and independent candidate Datuk Salleh Jafaruddin.

Taib won with a majority of 5,154 votes by polling 6,210 votes while Salleh garnered 1,056 votes and Suriati 871 votes.

Asked if Mukah-born Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Juanda Jaya is among the two recommended to the party, Baru said:” I have not met him, but somebody raised his name in the last state election.

“My response during that time was if he is a local we should pursue with that name. Unfortunately, we didn’t achieve that. I also read in newspapers that PBB is also interested to take him in.”

Baru said if Juanda was interested and willing to be part of PKR and believed Pakatan Rakyat’s struggles, there was nothing wrong in considering him.

“From my reading of his background, he appears to be a person of integrity. With his previous position being a religious person, that itself is a good criteria.

“If he is willing to stand for us, of course we will consider. The name and his experience seem to be very attractive to me.”

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