MUKAH: The number of projects and upgradings announced for Balingian since March 17 has left opposition PKR reeling in shock.
The Balingian by-election which will be held tomorrow is now literally a “buy” their loyalties polls, which is surprising considering the seat has been a Barisan Nasional stronghold since 2001 when former chief minister Taib Mahmud won the seat.
In the 2011 state election Taib retained the seat by 5,154 votes. In the earlier 2006 polls he locked in a majority of 5,726 votes.
Opposition PKR which is fielding Bintulu businessman Abdul Jalil Bujang is hoping to eat into BN’s previous majority.
But BN, through its candidate former Dalat district officer Yussibnosh Balo, is aiming for a landslide victory.
Various state and federal BN leaders have been making their rounds in Balingian wooing and cajoling voters with declarations that a big victory will be a show of gratitude to Taib and an endorsement of his succesor Adenan Satem’s administration.
Balingian falls in Sarawak’s ‘industrial’ zone. Taib’s pet project Sarawak Corridor for Renewable Energy (Score) is sited in the Mukah parliamentary constituency where Balingian sits.
An overwhelming win will also stamp BN’s continued control in the rural interior which has been facing active assault by opposition DAP and PKR since the the 2011 state election.
Both parties saw unprecedented victories in the 2011 state elections. DAP won 13 seats, albiet in the urban areas. PKR took three seats, losing at least two constituency by a hairline.
Perhaps this is the reason why BN is aiming its money muscle in victory-guaranteed Balingian.
According to state PKR vice chairman See Chee How the millions being thrown around in Balingian since the March 17 nomination, was unprecedented and “more than the constituency has seen in decades”.
The latest being a pledge by Sarawak’s Infrastructure and Communication Minister Michael Manyin to build a 11-kilometre missing link road between Kuala Serumpai and Kuala Tatau at a cost of RM230 million.
The numbers shocked See, who said that on the average one kilometre stretch of road in Sarawak would cost between RM1 to RM1.5 million to build.
He questioned the need for RM230 million for 11 km road stretch, adding that it reflected the need for a better check and balance system against the ruling government and that BN was fearful of their weakening strength in Balingian.
“The extravagance is shocking. We want people to know that the BN government has made so many promises in the Balingian by-election because of PKR’s strong presence.
“This has shown how important it is to have a dual party system. We need a good check and balance of the government.
“We urge all voters to come to vote on March 29,” said See alluding to the Kajang by-election which saw a low voter turnout. Nonetheless PKR retained the Kajang seat.
~ Free Malaysia Today