BELURAN: Umno has come a long way in Sabah in the 13 years since it first set foot there, opening its doors to all bumiputras and producing the partys first two Christian members of parliament from the east coast's river-mouth constituency of Beluran.
Incumbent Ronald Kiandee hopes that his track record will help him be chosen again to contest the 7,567 square kilometre seat, which is about the size of Selangor, with oil-palm plantations covering three-quarters of its area.
I have been working. I leave it to the leadership to decide on it, said the 44-year-old former Parti Akar secretary-general who was given the seat in the 1999 elections when Asmat Nongkar, Umnos first Christian MP, was dropped.
Kiandee, who joined Umno two years before the dissolution of Parti Akar, is facing unfriendly elbowing from political aspirants claiming that higher connections will be naming them as candidates.
Supporters of Aspa Abdullah Sani, the pro-tem deputy chief of the division in which Kiandee is a committee member, are banking on their man to be selected because of a sizeable number of Muslims in the 19,000 voter constituency.
Division youth chief James Ratip is among the other Umno leaders who are being considered as potential Barisan Nasional candidates.
Also trying to change his political fortunes is Asmat, who is praying hard that the seat will be his again.
Several other government servants, including an information officer, are also portraying themselves as potential candidates.
United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation is reasoning that it will be a great idea to seat its former Sugut assemblyman Datuk Tan Yong Gee as the two state seats of Sugut and Labuk under Beluran are being held by Umno and Parti Bersatu Sabah respectively.
Sugut assemblyman Datuk Surady Kayong, pro-tem Beluran Umno chief, has been tipped to defend the seat for a third term although local rivals believe otherwise.
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