GEDONG: The sleepy hollow of Gedong has come to life as election fever swept across the small commune located some 85km away from Kuching.
The 12th Sarawak election has thrown Gedong under the spotlight as Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) chairman Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg is the ruling coalition’s candidate for the seat.
The Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) president is contesting in Gedong for the first time, after moving from his old seat of Satok which he served as assemblyman since 1981.
For the next 12 days, Abang Johari and three others will be working their magic to woo constituents of Gedong – which is in the Batang Sadong parliamentary seat.
The others on the ballot are Mohamad Sofian Fariz Sharbini of Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB), Kamal Bujang of Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) and Tomson Ango of Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK).
The wet and rainy morning weather did not deter about a hundred GPS supporters from gathering for breakfast in Gedong.
They were waiting for the man fondly known as Abang Jo to arrive at the Gedong Community Hall where the nomination process was held.
As the Election Commission (EC) has banned gatherings or processions during nomination day due to Covid-19, a police drone with a loudspeaker was dispatched to warn supporters to adhere to physical distancing rules.
But as Abang Johari made his entrance, the townspeople, particularly those decked in white, chanted “Hidup GPS!”
At a press conference later, Abang Johari expressed his satisfaction with the whole nomination process and thanked election workers as well as the authorities for keeping things safe and peaceful.
“Everything has been orderly. This proves democracy is alive. I hope the next few days of the campaigning period will see all parties adhering to the SOP,” he said.
The sixth chief minister of Sarawak called on voters to evaluate GPS on its performance in the previous term, before giving it the mandate to rule for another five years.
“From 2016, we worked hard to deliver our election pledges. Although some people claim that ‘the manifesto is not a Bible’, to us, it is a serious promise that we must deliver,” said Abang Johari.
Meanwhile, Mohamad Sofian said he was unfazed taking on Abang Johari.
“If I can become a giant killer, that will be historical.
“We are all human beings. We do not fear man, we must only fear God,” said the businessman, 36.
The Gedong local boy described Abang Johari as a “parachuted” candidate.
“I need to defend Gedong from falling into the hands of an outsider. I am a Gedong local and have lived here all my life. I have seen too many unsolved problems here and I want to raise this,” said Mohamad Sofian, who lives in Kampung Kanchong.
Kamal, who is a retired teacher and former headmaster of a primary school, is looking forward to his first election outing.
“I am aware of the tough challenge that GPS presents, but we will do our utmost best,” said the 68-year-old.
Tomson, 66, said he would campaign on his party’s vision which is to change Sarawak and improve the livelihoods of its people.
Gedong has 7,208 registered voters and it was created from the redelineation process during the 11th Sarawak polls in 2016.
The seat was won by PBB’s Datuk Naroden Majais under the Barisan Nasional ticket with a majority of 3,365.