MUKAH: Balingian PBB senior vice-chairman Datuk Seri Dr Muhammad Michael Leo Toyad Abdullah said he expects the party to field a Melanau-Christian as its candidate in the coming by-election.
He said this was to fulfil a “gentlemen’s agreement” with the community more than three decades ago.
Toyad, who is Mukah MP, said it was agreed then that one of the three elected representatives in the area would be a Christian from the community.
“We’ve agreed to the gentlemen’s agreement, so we’ll always be gentlemen. The next thing to do is to keep the promise. Don’t worry. The Melanaus never turn back on their words,” he told reporters after officiating at a ceremony to hand over BR1M 3.0 vouchers here yesterday.
Balingian is one of the two state seats under the Mukah parliamentary constituency. The other is Dalat, which is being held by Wanita PBB deputy chairman Datin Fatimah Abdullah.
Toyad embraced Islam a few years ago while Fatimah is also a Muslim.
The Balingian by-election is being called following the resignation of Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud on Feb 28 to take up his appointment as Sarawak’s seventh Yang di-Pertua Negri effective March 1.
The Election Commission has set March 17 for nomination day and March 29 for polling.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) political scientist Dr Jeniri Amir lauded the plan to honour the unwritten agreement between the Melanau Muslims and Melanau Christians for the by-election.
Although religion was not a big issue among the communities in the state, people still talked about the agreement, he said.
A few names, including Taib’s eldest son Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, Balingian PBB branch vice-chairman Akit Sebli, engineer Adrian Dorhat and Perlis mufti Dr Juanda Jaya, have been bandied about to be the Barisan Nasional candidate for the seat.
Of them, Adrian and Akit are Christians.