Campaigning has been intense in Limbang’s Sarawak state constituency of Bukit Kota (N68), where a four-cornered fight is taking place between the BN, DAP and two independent candidates.
Sabah DAP sent an eight-member team including three Iban-speaking campaigners to Limbang to woo Sarawakian voters as its contribution to assist Sarawak DAP to try and wrest the Bukit Kota seat from the Barisan Nasional incumbent, Abdul Rahman Ismail.
The DAP’s young businessman candidate, Leong Kwang Yew, faces the might of the incumbent BN and two native independents to capture the Bukit Kota seat, a constituency of 14,471 registered voters dominated by the Malay/Melanau communities at 54.2 percent.
Malaysian Chinese constitute 31 percent of the voters in Bukit Kota, followed by the Iban at 12.8 percent and others, including the Orang Ulu (1.9 percent), Bidayuh (0.1 percent).
The DAP is banking on most of the Chinese and Iban votes to make an impact, and placing a sizable hope on enough of the Malay/Melanau vote to swing its way.
In the absence of SNAP, the two native independents can siphon off some Iban and Melanau votes that matter to the BN and the DAP.
Limbang and Lawas are the two nearest Sarawak towns to Sabah and many Sarawakians from these two towns and their riverine and highland hinterlands opt to work in Sabah, especially in the north in Kota Kinabalu, since Kuching is farther south.
Many of the Sarawakians working in Kota Kinabalu said they would try to get leave on April 15 to return to vote in this tenth Sarawak state election.
Limbang is the Sarawak division that split the state of Brunei into two halves and this last district that fell into the hands of James Brooke has always been one of the thornier issues in the Malaysia-Brunei relationship, besides off-shore territorial claims.
In the last state election, Bukit Kota saw a contest between BN and PKR. This time, the DAP set up by its candidate Leong Kwang Yew fancies its chances better this time, given the laidback development in Limbang under BN.
Leong said, “The corruption is so rampant, the people’s rights have been trampled on, and they are left far behind in terms of development in Sarawak.
“I spent my own money to manage the party here. It is a sacrifice expected of every member and leader of the DAP,” he stressed.
At his first ceramah last night, he told the enthusiastic audience that he could have opted for BN and be contented with all the benefits, but the thoughts of the people’s misery and suffering prompted him to go with the DAP to try to help the people in Limbang, in hope of change for the better.
The DAP Sabah delegation to Limbang is led by DAP Sabah chairperson and Sri Tanjung assemblyman, Jimmy Wong, accompanied by DAP Sabah vice-chairperson Peter Liew, secretary Dr Edwin Bosi, treasurer Henry Mogindol, committee
member and Merotai chief, Robert Penggal.
The Sabah team’s three Iban-speaking members are from Merotai, nearby Tawau. They will be helping out in ceramahs in the Iban long houses.