Hornbill Unleashed

March 8, 2014

Balingian set to cement Taib’s Melanau legacy

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

Hazlan Zakaria

With the Balingian by-election set for March 29, PBB looks set to deploy a Melanau candidate for the state seat, a move observers see as a means to cement former chief minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s legacy.

The Melanau-majority seat located within the Mukah parliamentary constituency has long been a PBB stronghold held by the former strongman and should continue to serve as a bastion for the party.

It is seen to be a loaded seat, and whoever gets picked to stand on the BN/PBB ticket will certainly play an important role in shaping the political landscape of Sarawak in the future.

Among the native Melanau personalities named as possible candidates is 43-year-old Perlis mufti Juanda Jaya, courted by both sides for his clean image though he has been said to favour PBB’s offer over PKR’s.

Others are former government servant and a PBB loyalist Akit Sebi, 58, and young engineer Adrian Alfonsus Dorhat, 34. All are Mukah-born Melanaus, locals to the constituency which has 13,499 voters.

Either one, if picked, will continue the legacy of the Melanau domination of the delicately balanced power structure in the state.

Indeed Taib’s son Datuk Seri Mahmud Bekir is also tipped for the seat to continue in his father’s footsteps but his recent involvement in a very public divorce settlement case in Kuala Lumpur may hinder his viability. What with his ex-wife outing his billion ringgit fortune in her claim of maintenance from him.

In the 2011 state election, Taib scored a resounding victory over two opponents. One was his second cousin and former Deputy Education Minister Datuk Salleh Jafaruddin who was backed by the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS). Salleh is also a Melanau who had previously held the Subis state seat. The other opponent was PKR’s Suriati Abdullah, a newcomer.

Despite the slew of allegations against Taib which were widely circulated in the public sphere at that time, the chief minister still romped home with a comfortable 5,154-vote majority, polling 6,210 votes against Salleh’s 1,056. The PKR candidate only managed to garner 871 votes and lost her deposit.

Taib was “unshakeable” in Balingian and his successor in the constituency is expected to have a smooth ride on March 29.

Taib gave up the CM’s post on Feb 28 and took over as Sarawak Governor the next day. He had earlier appointed his former brother-in-law Tan Sri Adenan Satem as his successor.

Adenan’s appointment as CM is the first time that a Malay is picked to lead the state administration, though political observers noted that he is more likely a seat warmer who is more receptive to Taib’s advice.

While Adenan may resent the “seat warmer” tag, there is little to suggest that he is not. At 70 and wearing a pacemaker, how long could he cling on to the CM’s position?

There is no doubt that a Melanau will be chosen to contest in Balingian for PBB. Not only because Melanau is the chosen race in the Mukah heartland, but also because Taib and his Melanau community would desire to influence Sarawak politics for years to come.

Just look at these statistics. In Sarawak’s 51 years of independence, two Melanaus, Taib and his uncle Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub, held the CM’s post for a total of 44 years.

Sarawak’s first two chief ministers, Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan and Datuk Penghulu Tawi Sli were Ibans. Together, they were in office for only nine years.

The Election Commission has fixed March 17 as nomination day for the Balingian by-election and March 29 for polling.



  1. Nothing new in this article, Bandar Kuching has always had a Chinese MP, and it will continue like that in future.

    Comment by mahadir — March 8, 2014 @ 11:47 AM | Reply

  2. When billions can protect criminals,destabilize sovereign countries tell me what it cannot be done to less developed rural area called Balingian where folks are ignorant, enable to grasp the reality and easily be swayed by the sweet juicy carrots. The Chinese timbers tycoons with their big fat baits can tutup mata lure the ignorance to vote for PBB. The opposition will have to use their wisdoms to fight PBB. To those believers who believe beyond the physical can pray hard maybe their prayers can be answered and help to reverse the situation. mahadir,brian are you listening?

    Comment by loyarburok — March 8, 2014 @ 11:46 AM | Reply

    • You think you know all ……. let us see. Balingian state seat is actually Mukah town and the villages nearby. The seat can’t be called Mukah because the parliamentary seat covering the area is already called Mukah . Mukah is the most dynamic town in Sarawak now with Recoda headquarters and government institutions like Polytechnic, PPKS, Uitm and MRSM. It is not rural as you presume. It has an airport and all the big banks plus a four star hotel. It is not rural WHERE ARE FOLKS ARE IGNORANT as you say. I resided there until lately. Do some research before you comment please.

      Comment by mahadir — March 8, 2014 @ 11:56 AM | Reply

    • Do not demean the rural folks because of your own ignorance,for your wrong perception of them as being ignorant and easily swayed by your money. You live in luxury while their survival is day to day with little to go by. The reason why rural folks reacts differently and contrary to what you expected is because you have more and they have less, much less then you do. Put you in their shoes, would you be ignorant and easily swayed?

      Comment by brian — March 10, 2014 @ 11:13 AM | Reply

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