Hornbill Unleashed

March 3, 2014

Balingian: Who’s the secret Melanau graduate?

Filed under: Kleptocracy — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

Alan Ting

Political observers believe that PBB will likely field a Melanau-Christian as part of the traditional arrangement inherited by the party from its predecessor Barjasa.

Following Taib Mahmud’s retirement from active politics, the predominantly Melanau based Barisan Nasional (BN) stronghold of Balingian has become the focus of political pundits.

With the dust settled on who will be replacing Abdul Taib as the Chief Minister, all eyes are now on Balingian that could serve as the proving ground for the new chief minister and Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) president Adenan Satem.

Balingian, a BN-PBB stronghold for over 40 years, will see a by-election soon. Now the guessing game on the candidate for the Balingian state seat has begun.

Obviously, the candidate has to be a Melanau. There are about 130,000 Melanaus in Sarawak and they constitute about six percent of the overall population.

The Melanau population comprise sub-communities from different faiths – Christians, Muslims and traditional believers. They are mostly found in the Mukah-Balingian area. Balingian is a state seat within the Mukah parliamentary constituency.

Several names have been mentioned and speculated as the Barisan Nasional forerunner candidate for the Balingian by-election.

Top on the candidate list were former federal minister Effendi Norwawi and Taib’s eldest son,  Mahmud Abu Bekir but both have ruled out their interest on the seat.

Effendi had issued a statement to local media in Sarawak stating that he is not keen while Bekir personally told reporters in Kuching few days ago that it was still too early for him to be involved seriously in politics as he was busy with his business.

With the heavyweights staying out, party insiders said the list has narrowed to few names which includes  engineer Andrian Alphonsus Dorhan, businessman Paul Druce, former permanent secretary for Sarawak Tourism Ministry Akit Sebli and Dr Anthony Valentine Laiseh, former Deputy Resident of Mukah.

Vantine is currently the Deputy Resident of Betong.

There is also talks that a graduate in his 30s with his identity being closely guarded is also in the list.

Testing ground for Adenan

The candidate is likely to be known by next week when the party under new president Adenan Satem holds its supreme council meeting to make their pick.

Political observers believe for this by-election, the party is likely to field a Melanau-Christian as part of the traditional arrangement inherited by PBB from its predecessor Barisan Rakyat Jati Sarawak (BARJASA).

“The understanding since the days of Barjasa on the seat allocation involving Mukah area is that at least one seat should be given to the Melanau-Christians,” said former state assemblyman for Balingian Salleh Japaruddin.

Barjasa merged with Parti Negara Sarawak resulting in Parti Bumiputera whicheventually merged with Parti Pesaka Anak Sarawak (Pesaka) to become Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu Sarawak (PBB) on April 30, 1973 with the former representing Muslim Melanaus and the later Melanaus of other faiths.

Salleh, former PBB vice-president and Taib’s second cousin explained that the Dalat and Balingian state seat under the Mukah parliamentary constituency, is represented by Fatimah Abdullah and Taib respectively while the Mukah parliamentary seat is represented by Dr Muhammad Leo Michael Toyad Abdullah.

According to a senior lecturer from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UniMas) Dr Jeniri Amir, whoever the party picks, PBB would retain the seat easily.

“For this by-election, I believe the BN candidate can easily get between 85-90 percent of the votes. The reason is very simple, past records show each time a new candidate debuts the support increases,” he said.

While many political observers believe the outcome of Balingian by-election is a forgone conclusion favouring BN, it is still a good testing ground for new state leadership helmed by Adenan.

Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi from UniMas’s Institute of East Asian Studies explained the Balingian by-election would reflect the grassroots’ acceptance of the new Chief Minister as the constituency is made up of different ethnic groups though it is predominantly Melanau.

“It could serve as the testing ground for the new state leadership to introduce new faces and test acceptance level before the state elections due in mid-2016,” Awang said.


  1. Melanau Christian, Muslim Melanau,Chinese Buddhist,Chinese Christian, Dayak Pagan, Dayak Christian wow ! what a way to address the various communities in Sarawak. What about Malay this.. Malay that..?

    Comment by loyarburok — March 3, 2014 @ 12:03 PM | Reply

    • This is the reality in Sarawak. Malay? The person who habitually speaks Malay, a Muslim and practises Malay custom is a Malay by definition. Thus you cannot say a Malay Muslim because a Malay is already a Muslim. Malay is complete in itself. Thus your suggestion to use Malay this… Malay that .. does not merit discussion.

      Comment by mahadir — March 3, 2014 @ 1:53 PM | Reply

      • and there is this new race called Melaynow in Sarawak. They adopted the malay language, are muslims and adopted the malay customs so malay this… malay that.. is also correct!

        Comment by brian — March 3, 2014 @ 2:44 PM | Reply

        • Melanau is not the same as malay

          Comment by looes74 — March 3, 2014 @ 4:27 PM | Reply

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