PETALING JAYA: The nominated candidate in the Balingian by-election could provide the clue as to incoming Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s successor.
Word at the grassroots level is that Adenan, who will be replacing Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud on Feb 28 as the state’s fifth chief minister, will be warming the hot seat for the new assemblyman for the seat that Taib will vacate.
Taib has to vacate the Balingian seat when he is appointed Sarawak Governor.
Taib’s PBB officials are not discounting the possibility of a new party leader emerging just before the next Sarawak elections but they have declined to speculate as to who the sixth Sarawak chief minister could be.
Furthermore, they said Adenan’s health could be a factor as to why he might not hold on to the top post for long.
The PBB officials said that being a Melanau, Taib would want another leader from his community to take over the Melanau-majority Balingian seat.
Academicians well versed in Sarawak’s political scene believe the candidate would likely be a blood relation or at least, favoured by Taib. They feel this is to ensure continuation of his legacy.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak Associate Professor Dr Andrew Aeria said he would not be surprised if the candidacy fell to one of Taib’s children, possibly either Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir or Datin Hanifah Taib Alsree.
He believed Adenan was only appointed as an interim measure and what takes place in the Balingan by-election would says a lot on the true situation.
Aeria doubted that former Federal minister Datuk Seri Mohd Effendi Norwawi would stage a comeback.
“He has retired. I do not think he is interested,” he said.
Aeria’s colleague, Dr Jeniri Amir said that while the signs point to how important the choice of candidate for Balingian would be to the future of Sarawak, he preferred not to read too much into it.
“Coming from Mukah myself, the candidate has to be a Melanau so he or she can communicate with the locals but to say that person could take over from Adenan as Chief Minister subsequently, is to be seen,” he said.
However, he was quick to add that the story would only unfold once the candidate’s identity was revealed.For now, he admitted word on the ground suggested the bet was on Mahmud.