Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sibu By-Election: Who Will Turn Up To Vote In Sibu?

From Malaysiakini

Who will turn up to vote in Sibu?

Lina Soo | Apr 28, 10 12:03pm

Sibu in central Sarawak, Malaysia, sits on the confluence of the Rejang and Igan Rivers. The name of Sibu is thought to have originated from the abundance of rambutan in the area, called 'buah sibau' in the Iban language.

Prior to 1873, it was a Melanau settlement comprising a few wooden houses with attap roofs. All this changed when Wong Nai Siong in 1901 led the first batch of Foochows from China to open up the fertile lands of Sibu for agriculture.

Today, Sibu municipality houses Sarawak's second largest population centre at about 200,000: Chinese (62 percent), Iban (19 percent), Malay (10.5 percent), Melanau (7.1 percent) Bidayuh (0.3 percent) and others (0.8 percent).

The Chinese population is declining in proportion, as many have left Sibu to settle in Kuching and Miri, in part purportedly due to safety fears about the Bakun dam upriver the mighty Rejang.

In their place have come the Iban from the rural areas to Sibu in search of job opportunities, tenanting the homes vacated by the Chinese.

Dam or not, economic life in Sibu has certainly declined in this once booming timber town where at one time, wealthy towkays were known to have lighted up their cigarettes in dimly lit nightclubs with rolled up dollar bills to impress Taiwanese singers, in the heyday of the 70's.

Sibu has 54,695 registered voters with Chinese at 36,389 (66.75 percent), Iban at 12,050 (22.1 percent), Melanau/Malay at 5,740 (10.5 percent), Indians 54 (0.01 percent), Orang Ulu at 23 (0.04 percent) and others 289 (0.53 percent). New voters relocated to Sibu number 3,028. There are 2,537 postal voters made up of 1,910 military and 627 police personnel.

Age-wise, 467 voters are over 90; 1,044 between 80-89 and 2,757 between 70 and 79. Against this background, a sizeable number of the voters, especially in the young and median age range work and live in other towns in Malaysia or overseas.

It is doubtful if this absentee group of voters will be able to make it back on polling day to exercise their democratic rights. In past elections, SUPP is known to have won on the back of bumiputera support in the longhouses and kampongs where bread and butter concerns rule the day, whilst DAP is perceived to have majority Chinese support in the urban areas.

Voting stations

Come May 16, polling will be at 45 stations with 110 streams, involving a manpower strength of 1,149. Two kindergartens, 39 schools, a training centre, longhouse, public library and public recreational centre will be use as voting stations. Nomination and ballot tallying will be held at Dewan Suarah while the issuance and counting of the postal ballots will be at Sibu district office.

SUPP has made known its choice of candidate in lawyer Robert Lau Hui Yew (left) who has already sprinted off the starting block from the word ‘go', meeting people at the central market, coffeeshops and longhouses.

DAP Sarawak chairman and state assemblyman for Bukit Assek, Wong Ho Leng will be the DAP/Pakatan Rakyat candidate.

Punting on the outcome of elections is illegal gambling in Malaysia. However, gentlemen's wagers are ‘tolerated' and these ‘friendly bets' run into five and six digits which accumulatively can be colossal, possibly sufficient to influence the outcome and tip the scale either side, especially where the margin of winning or losing is by a hair's breath.

For DAP, it is the perennial upstream battle against the BN's 3M: money, manpower and machinery, with some observers already dismissing the outcome as a foregone conclusion.

Nevertheless talk in the kopitiam reckon the odds at 50-50, as DAP has fielded a heavyweight. If DAP had put up a new face, the odds would have slid downwards to 40-60 or 30-70 against.

DAP won the Sibu parliamentary seat only once in 1982 by a whisker of 141 votes. The feat was achieved by Ling Sie Ming, the ‘David' against SUPP's ‘Goliath' Dr Wong Soon Kai. But it was never to be repeated, as Sibu fell back into SUPP hands in subsequent elections.

The question on everyone's lips in town now is, can DAP repeat its feat of 1982? Can we expect to see another David and Goliath battle in the making?

In politics, nothing is impossible.


LINA SOO is a Malaysiakini-trained Citizen Journalist based in Sibu.

PKR Batu Kawah Lends Helping Hand To Fire Victims

PKR Batu Kawah Lends Helping Hand To Batu Kawah Kpg Rantau Panjang Fire Victims

The plight of three families in Kampung Rantau Panjang whose homes were recently razed to the ground got a helping hand when PKR Batu Kawah organized a donation campaign to help these less fortunate.

The three families are: ketua kampung Hj Omar bin Lamu, Sapuan bin Amit and Suhana bte Mos.

Cash donations of RM300, fifteen 10kg bags of rice, six 2kg cooking oil, three new sarongs, sugar, noodles, meehoon and used clothings were handed over to the three families who lost every possession they owned when disaster struck. PKR state assemblyman for Padungan Dominique Ng and Batu Kawah branch leader Lina Soo were on hand to hand over the food items and cash donations contributed by party members and caring members of public.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dato' Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail Visits Sarawak

PKR President Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail Visits Sarawak: 8-10 April 2010

From the word ‘go’ the moment the plane touched down Kuching at 5pm, it was a gruelling schedule for PKR party president Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. First on the agenda was a meet-the-press session held at hotel lobby where Dr Azizah fielded questions from the press on current developments in politics including the forthcoming Sibu by-election.

In the evening Dr Azizah was feted at a dinner organized by PKR Layar branch under Stanny Embat and Cecilia Yuna. Guests included Angkatan Muda Keadilan chief Samsul Iskandar and state leaders Datuk Hafsah Harun, YB Dominique Ng, state chief Baru Bian, Jimmy Donald, Dato Sri Daniel Tajem and DAP YB Voon Lee Shan. Dr Azizah spoke on the Hulu Selangor and Sibu by-elections, the sodomy trial of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and state politics. Her message to Sarawakians was to urge the people of Sarawak to exercise their democratic right to vote out the Barisan Nasional which had held power for far too long.

After her speech, Dr Azizah was whisked off to Kampung Patingan, Satok for a meet-the-people session organized by Angkatan Muda Sarawak (AMK). It was very late by the time she retired for the night.

In the wee hours of the morning, Dr Azizah and her entourage departed for Lachau (200km), a town two hours’ drive away in the state constituency of Bukit Begunan. Ex Sri Aman MP and PKR vice-chairman Jimmy Donald was on hand to welcome Dr Azizah who delighted the early morning breakfasters by greeting and chatting to them. Traders were also charmed with her winsome smile when she visited their jungle produce market.

Forward to Debak (284km), the constituency where Abang Zulkifli Engkeh had contested in the 2006 election on PKR ticket and lost by a whisker. Dr Azizah addressed the crowd of local constituents, speaking of the beauty and richness of Sarawak’s resources and urged the people to vote for change.

Onward to Saratok (307km) where after a brief rest, the entourage proceeded to Rumah Latit Sg Engkabang Roban, party member John Antau’s longhouse for another meet-the-people session. Dr Azizah delighted the longhouse folks with her charm, and in her speech exhorted the people to support Party Keadilan.

It was mid-afternoon when the entourage proceeded to Sibu (462km). In Sibu, Dr Azizah met party members in the region and had dinner with PR leaders. Dr Azizah departed for Kuala Lumpur the same evening.

Transversing miles to meet Sarawakians on a schedule which would daunt any man twice her size, Dr Azizah carried off the programme with steely resolve belying her delicate and fragile demeanour. Her graciousness and her charm as party leader, as woman, as wife, as mother, touches the heart of each and everyone she meets. Exquisite, a rare gem.

Sibu By-Election: Interview With Wong Ho Leng

Anwar Ibrahim's Post-Hulu Selangor Message

Dear Supporter,

I thank the workers and volunteers from Pakatan Rakyat including our friends in DAP and PAS who supported our candidate in Hulu Selangor, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

Tens of thousands of Malaysians joined us to show the people of Hulu Selangor that Pakatan Rakyat is committed to a Malaysia where all of its citizens have the right to peace, justice, and prosperity. I am thankful for the tremendous support you have shown. Your commitment to change is commendable.

One setback shall not divert us from our goal. Any change worth making is hard and will be fought at every turn. While it doesn't take away the sting of this loss, there is no road to real change without setbacks along the way.

Over RM100 million was spent by BN to win a thin majority in Hulu Selangor: that amounts to RM65,000 per person. Dozens of ministers campaigned every day; the Election Commission appears guilty once again of violating its mandate to ensure fair elections; and the police intimidated our supporters and there are reports that they even prevented some voters from reaching the polling stations.

This means that Barisan Nasional has learned nothing since the March 2008 election. Character assassination, racism, bribery and brute force may help to win one or two by-elections. But the people of Malaysia will not be deceived.

Our country still faces the same challenges which cannot be resolved by dirty politics or a few catchy slogans. The economy is lagging, jobs are scarce and our education system remains mediocre at best. We must do more to address the plight of the poor and marginalised people throughout Malaysia. And we must bring credibility back to the Federal government as we have started to do in the Pakatan States.

We increased our popular support in Hulu Selangor. We know we have to do more to reach out to our supporters in the rural heartland, particularly the Felda settlements. I am committed to this challenge and my resolve is unwavering.

Let us look ahead to the next contest and work to bring change to Sarawak. Click here ( to make a contribution to the May 16th by-election and help us to support the DAP candidate in Sibu.

Thank you,

Monday, April 26, 2010

SUPP Names Sibu By-Election Candidate and Federal Deputy Transport Minister

Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP)president Dr George Chan has named lawyer Robert Lau Hui Yew as Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for the Sibu by-election and MP Richard Riot as Deputy Transport Minister after chairing the CWC meeting on Sunday.

On Supp's chances of retaining the Sibu seat, he said, the party was confident it could secure a thumping win due to the strong unity within the state BN component parties and the people's positive response to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's administration through his 1Malaysia concept.

Hui Yew, who has been a Supp member for 17 years, is the Sibu branch's assistant treasurer.

The appointment of five-term Serian MP Richard Riot is perceived to appease the Bidayuh community which has been clamouring for ministerial and council appointments for its leaders.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

PKR Batu Kawa Service Centre Break-In

PKR Batu Kawa Service Centre Loses Blood Pressure Monitor
And Wifi Modem In Break-In

Parti Keadilan Rakyat Batu Kawa service centre at Batu Kawah New Township lost its blood pressure monitor, wifi modem and RM80 cash when its office was broken into by thieves. PKR Batu Kawa leaders Lina Soo and Mesah Suhaili discovered the break-in when they turned up for community service on Thursday. A police report of the burglary was lodged immediately and Soo highly commends the police for their prompt response in investigating the break-in.

The total loss is estimated at RM800, but Soo especially laments the theft of the blood pressure monitor which had performed the popular and important function of regular free blood pressure checks for the elderly in the community. Soo says she welcome any kind-hearted donor who would replace the blood pressure monitor as it is a much needed service offered by the centre.

At the same time, Soo is appealing for food items to assist three families in Batu Kawa whose homes were recently razed to the ground, and all their belongings were lost in the fire. Soo says the food items can be rice, cooking oil, canned food, vegetables etc and those who wish to help these families in time of need may contact Soo at 013-8164219 to collect.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sibu Parliamentary By-Election: It's May 16!

Sibu voters will go to the polls on May 16 after an eight-day campaign with nomination day being set for May 8, announced the Election Commission today.

When asked about the possibility of opposition leaders being barred from entering the state in the run up to the polls, Abdul Aziz washed his hands off the issue, saying that the matter is not under the commission's purview.

"It is a matter for the state government and the immigration department. It is not the EC's responsibility," he said.

"I'm sure (the immigration department) have their own reasons. But as far as the EC is concerned, Malaysians should be free to move around from one state to another."

PKR leaders R Sivarasa and N Gobalakrishnan were, on separate occasions, barred from entering the state in 2009 and 2008 respectively.

Abdul Aziz named Sibu district officer Wong See Meng the returning officer, with two enforcement teams for each of the three state seats under the parliamentary constituency. They will monitor campaigning to ensure that no laws are broken under the Elections Act.

The electoral roll updated on April 9 indicate a total of 53,679 voters with a Chinese majority of 60 per cent. There is also a large concentration of Melanau (20%), Iban (18%), Orang Ulu (1.1%) and other races (0.9%).

The deceased Robert Lau, who had been Sibu MP under the Sarawak United People’s Party (Supp) flag for five terms since 1990, won by a majority of 3,235 votes with 19,138 votes against DAP's Wong Ho Leng who garnered 15,903 votes and PKR's Lim Chin Chuang with 812 votes.

SUPP has already named Robert Lau's cousin, Lau Hui Yew as its candidate who is already very actively moving on the ground. DAP has yet to name its candidate though leading contenders are state chief YB Wong Ho Leng, Sibu women chief Alice Lau and ex-SUPP Wong Chin Yong. The decision is expected to be made known when PR leaders meet in Sibu this Sunday.

Regardless, whoever is chosen to represent DAP will face a tough fight as BN's 3M - Money, Men and Machinery - will rain upon Sibu like manna from heaven. Why is it that only when an election is imminent, suddenly the government springs to life, flooding the constituency with funds, grants, projects and what you will. Sigh.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bakun Native Customary Rights (NCR) Extinguished

The Court of Appeal (CA) sitting in Putrajaya has upheld a Kuching High Court decision taken on 28 April 2008, in extinguishing NCR over Bakun reservoir area.

The CA affirmed the validity of the extinguishment of NCR under Section 5(3) and (4) of the Sarawak Land Code, whereby plaintiffs Bato Bagi and others cannot reclaim their former native customary land (NCL) for which the government has compensated them.

With this decision, all impediments to the impounding of the reservoir for the Bakun dam has been removed.

Terrific news. With a dozen more dams to go, expect further extinguishment of NCR land to be systematically executed, with displacement of indigenous communities from the land their ancestors have lived for centuries, loss of forest resources and wanton destruction of biodiversity in almost the last frontier of earth's tropical rainforests.

Sibu Parliamentary By-Election: It's DAP/PR Against BN/SUPP

PR coalition opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim today announced that DAP will contest the Sibu parliamentary by-election against SUPP of BN.

Supp had already recommended lawyer Robert Lau Hui Yew, 45, as its candidate. DAP's candidate is still anyone’s guess.

However, speculation is rife DAP's candidacy will be a toss-up between DAP Sarawak chairman Wong Ho Leng and DAP newcomer Wong Ching Yong, formerly of SUPP.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sibu Parliamentary By-Election

The untimely demise of Sibu MP Robert Lau, 68, from the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) sees yet another by-election looming for Malaysia. For Sarawak this would be the first parliamentary by-election since the last general election of March 2008. The other by-election in 2009 was the state seat of Batang Ai which was won handsomely by BN. Sarawak holds its state election separately from the parliamentary election, the only state to do so.

Lau, who was also deputy transport minister, had been Sibu MP for five terms, since 1990. He beat Sarawak DAP chief Wong Ho Leng and PKR's Lim Chin Chuang in a three-cornered fight at the 2008 general elections. Lau won by a majority of 3,235 votes in 2008 by bagging 19,138 votes against Wong's 15,903 and Lim's 812.

SUPP is likely again to face stiff competition from DAP in a contest that would set the tone for the upcoming state election which must be held by mid-2011.

Sibu parliamentary constituency, which includes the rich logging town of Sibu, is made up of Chinese (60 percent), Melanau (20 percent), Iban (18 percent) and Orang Ulu (1.1 percent).

Meanwhile, the Election Commission (EC) expects to receive the notice of vacancy for the Sibu seat on Monday following the death of Lau. Chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said the EC would normally announce the dates for the nomination and by-election within 10 days following the vacancy of a seat. He said the EC is expected to meet on April 16 to decide on the poll date. Under election laws, a by-election will have to be called within 60 days. This will be the 11th by-election in the country.


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Malaysian Brain Drain And Capital Flight Overseas

M'sian Talent In High Demand Overseas

Aidila Razak and Wong Teck Chi | Apr 8, 10 11:55am

The New Economic Model report's emphasis on attracting talent home is most timely - there is a global war for skills, and Malaysian professionals are happy to go where the grass is greener.

According to a 2008 Towers Perrin survey, Malaysian workers are very flexible and willing to change jobs in the face of attractive offers, even if it means moving abroad.

Happily for Malaysians professionals, said a trend analyst Foong Wai Fong, international demand is strong.

Language capabilities figure high on the list of reasons why global employers favour Malaysians, with other attributes like resilience and reliability also cited, she said.

Inti Education Group President Tan Yew Sing added that Malaysians are also valued for having a wider worldview.

"Malaysian workers tend to be more approachable and don't give the impression that they are only sordid merchants," he added.

Signaling adaptability, the Australian Parliament Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade 2007 report noted that "Malaysian born people are one of the best groups in Australia for integrating into the community".

Australia has indeed been one of the top destinations of choice for Malaysian emigrants, with 5396 permanent residency visas awarded to Malaysians in the past two years.

Topping the list of Malaysian emigrants to Australia are pharmacists, accountants and doctors-the type of talent pivotal to realise Malaysia's high income dreams.

Next door in New Zealand, two-thirds of Malaysians awarded permanent residency visas last year were skilled workers.

Western countries have been the traditional favourites of Malaysian emigrants.

The United States 2000 Census noted 45,459 Malaysian-born residents, the figure in the United Kingdom in 2001 was comparable at 49, 886 people.

But an Asian Migrant Centre study as far back as 1995 approximated 250,000 Malaysians working in Japan and Taiwan, proving that East Asian economies are also in the mix.

Overseas studies a path to migration

In neighbouring Singapore, most of non-Singapore born residents come from Malaysia, with pull factors including Singapore's world class universities.

National University Singapore is ranked 10th in the QS Asian University Rankings 2009, far surpassing Malaysia's best university, Universiti Malaya, which ranked 39th.

The international student path of migration has long been popular among Malaysian emigrants.

A study in 1994 found that 43 percent of Malaysian and Singaporean students who furthered their studies in Australia were motivated by future migration.

Notable Malaysians who have followed this path include fashion powerhouse Zang Toi (left), the inventor of the single-chip USB pen drive Pua Kian Seng, and former Curtin University chancellor Eric Tan.

But Tan believes that the student migration path does not explain the exodus to East Asian countries like China.

Emigrants to countries like China, he said, are more likely to be young professionals who are taking up the diverse and challenging opportunities that such rapidly developing economies can offer.

Migration path

The student migration path is likely to strengthen with global education players offering easier pathways to permanent residency and citizenship for international graduates.

Mimicking Australia, in 2008 the UK began giving international students immediate access to work permits upon graduation, if employed, paving the way for subsequent high-skilled migration.

A 2008 report by the Association of Pacific Rim Universities also noted that even major US employers are lobbying their Congress for automatic provision permanent residency to all foreign doctoral graduates.

Singapore is also quick to capitalise on its international students by offering scholarships and ensuring a promising career path to retain its international graduates, said Foong.

"If a graduate who is able to earn RM2500 in Malaysia can earn 3000 SGD in Singapore and have that increased to 5000 SGD after three months of confirmation, why would he want to leave (Singapore)?" she asked.

But easier access to a work permits and visas is hardly the main factor for emigration.

Nor are higher wages, which many, including Malaysian Employers' Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan, claim to be the main driver for professional emigration.

Migration agents, researchers, and emigrants, cite a culmination of many reasons, includng dwindling freedom of expression, concern for children's education, increased conservatism and a general lack of faith in institutions like the judiciary and the police force.

Another is a common reason cited even by members of the National Economic Advisory Council (NEAC), which was behind the NEM report.

In an interview with a Malaysian radio station last week, London-based Malaysian-born economist and NEAC member Danny Quah said that he would consider relocating to Malaysia if policies were more equitable.

Such changes could only occur if the NEM proposal to do away with ethnic-based affirmative action does come to fruition.

But with strong resistance already mounted by pressure groups who claim such policy is the right of the bumiputera, Malaysia might need to wait longer still for its talent to return home.