MIRI: It is getting “hotter” by the day – in the political sense that is – in Miri city.
Five political parties and one Sarawak-rights group have already expressed their interest to contest in the coming by-election in Pujut.
As of yesterday, Barisan Nasional component party Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP), Sarawak DAP, United Peoples Party (UPP), Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S), Sarawak PAS and State Reform Party have announced their interest.
So far, only SUPP has obtained the nomination forms, three sets to be exact.
On May 30, SUPP became the first political entity to start its machinery on the ground for the by-election.
Pujut SUPP chairman Adam Yii, who is also Miri mayor, has been shortlisted as the party’s first-choice candidate.
“The election machinery for Barisan in Pujut is made up of leaders and members in Miri from SUPP, PBB (Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP),” Yii said.
The Barisan candidate will only be announced by Sarawak Barisan chairman Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, who is Chief Minister, two days before the June 20 nomination day.
The Pujut state seat fell vacant early last month when its incumbent assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon from DAP was removed by the state legislative assembly for allegedly having Australian citizenship.
Dr Ting defeated BN direct candidate Datuk Hii King Chiong and two other candidates by a 1,800 majority in the state polls last May.
The Election Commission has fixed June 20 for nomination and July 4 for polling.
The Pujut seat has more than 28,000 voters, consisting of 80% Chinese and 20% bumiputera voters. A big portion of the Pujut seat covers Miri City.
The Sarawak DAP, led by state chairman Chong Chien Jen and other leaders, came to Miri to start its election preparation for Pujut.
Chong said DAP has identified a candidate already even though there is a court appeal filed against the state assembly decision to sack Dr Ting.
The High Court in Kuching will make a decision on the appeal on June 19.
Chong said Sarawak DAP will contest for Pujut if it fails in its court appeal, but declined to provide a name.
It is said that Sarawak DAP secretary Alan Ling will be the first choice to stand in Pujut.
Ling is former assemblyman for Piasau. He won Piasau in 2011 when he defeated then SUPP president Tan Sri Dr George Chan.
He was later defeated by SUPP secretary general Datuk Sebastian Ting in last May’s state polls.
UPP, which was formed by a group of former SUPP leaders, is also contesting for Pujut, with a business manager as its first choice candidate.
S4S is expected to field former Pujut DAP chief Fong Pau Teck while PAS Sarawak will field state commissioner Jofri Jaraiee.
State Reform Party said it will also join the fray.