SOOK: From the Swiss Alps to the tough, rugged terrain of Pensiangan, political rookie Arthur Joseph Kurup will face an uphill task in taking over his father’s parliamentary seat.
Located close to the Kalimantan-Sabah border, the constituency, which was held by Tan Sri Joseph Kurup for two terms, has an almost equal number of ethnic Dusun and Murut voters.
The area will test Arthur, who used to be a lawyer with the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland, as he enters the complex game of localised family politics.
But the Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) deputy president remains unperturbed, saying he had no problems connecting with rural folks despite many years abroad.
Arthur, who holds a Master of Laws from an Australian university, said his international exposure would help bring fresh ideas that would benefit the people in his constituency.
“I can be a better voice for the people. I understand their needs and can raise them up to the national level.
“I grew up in a rural setting and worked internationally. I can adapt to both environments. It is not a problem for me,” he said after meeting Barisan Nasional campaigners at a polling district in Sinua near here.
Arthur, who also has a master’s degree in international economics and finance from Australia, is facing a five-cornered fight for the seat, which has 31,377 voters.
Sentiments on the ground are leaning towards PKR’s Raymond Ahuar as his main challenger, while others think that Sabah STAR’s candidate Richard Joe Jimmy should not be dismissed either.
For the two state seats under Pensiangan, Raymond’s father Ahuar Rasam is contesting on a Parti Warisan Sabah ticket for Nabawan while PBRS’ Datuk Ellron Angin, the incumbent for Sook, seems to be in a comfortable position to retain the constituency.
According to local observers, Ellron has built a strong base of supporters in Sook and will not have a problem fending off his rivals.
However, he will not be resting on his laurels.
“I am still trying to figure out who my main contender is,” said Ellron, who faces a four-cornered fight against Warisan’s Martin Tommy, STAR’s Baritus Gungkit and Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri’s Beaty Fred @ Peter Beaty.
But some observers think that Arthur needs to make his presence felt to secure Pensiangan, a task that could easily be done with help from Ellron and other Barisan Nasional component parties.
Before being Pensiangan MP, Joseph had represented the Sook state seat between 1985 and 1999.