It is a three-cornered fight in the Tanjong Datu by-election involving Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Datin Patinggi Datuk Amar Jamilah Anu and candidates from State Reform Party Sarawak (STAR) JohnnyAput and Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDS Baru) Rapelson Richard Hamit after would be Independent candidate Asbor Abdullah was disqualified as he is a bankrupt.
Rapelson submitted his nomination forms at 9.05am, followed by Johnny at 9.06am and Asbor, 9.07am. Jamilah arrived at 9.10am.
Jamilah, 62, widow of the late Tanjong Datu assemblyman and former chief minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem, wore a black dress and white headscarf and a pair of dark glasses.
Escorted by a wall of relatives and BN supporters, she refused to have her pictures taken as she was still in the 130-day mourning period.
Jamilah, born and raised in Bau, possesses a Diploma in Secretarial Science from Mara Institute of Technology (UiTM) Sabah. She has two children from her 37-year marriage to Adenan. They are Aziza Jasmi, 33, and Azizul Annuar, 26.
She was the secretary to People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) Sarawak branch from 1976 to 1990. She is active in social and welfare works and among some of the posts she is currently holding are chairman of Association of Wives of State Ministers, Assistant Ministers and State Legislative Assembly Members (Sabati) and chairperson of Muslim Welfare Organisation Malaysia (Perkim) Samarahan Branch.
She is also the patron for many non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Jamilah was not present when Returning Officer Hamsein Atar made the announcement at 10.17am, but her son Azizul was there to represent her.
Later Azizul told the media that his mother would not be involved in the campaigning.
“All the campaign activities will be represented by her children,” he said.
Azizul said for the next two weeks of campaigning, he would be stationed in Tanjong Datu full time to participate in PBB campaign activities.
“The state BN had hoped for a walk-over but under the democratic practice, we respect others’ decision to join the fray and let the voters decide on Feb 18,” he said.
STAR candidate Johnny, 54, a Bidayuh who hails from Paon Rimu in Serian, is the party’s chairman.
His manifesto focuses on the autonomy of Sarawak based on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) which he claimed the late chief minister was too slow to pursue.
“We support his struggle but the pace is too slow. STAR advocates that the pace should be hastened so that we can regain our rights as equal partners in the federation,” he said.
Johnny likened the slow pace of the state government’s effort to fight for the state’s autonomy to ‘looking for a stone that has been thrown into the ocean’.
“In STAR, we believe that since we have found the stone, we should just expedite the whole process of devolution of power,” said Johnny, who is an electrician by profession.
Rapelson, 31, a social activist from Siburan who is married with a child, said his main area of contention was the recognition of Native Customary Rights (NCR) land especially the ‘Pemakai Menoa’ and ‘Pulau Galau’, which have been ruled by the Federal Court recently as having no force of law.
“This is a great disadvantage for the native communities in Sarawak. As an activist, I want to pursue the matter and hopefully the state government will amend the present law with regards to NCR land so that we can get our rights back,” said Rapelson, who is a political science graduate from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).
Meanwhile, Asbor Abdullah, 67, was hoping to contest for the ninth time.
He said it was his hobby to take part in elections.
He had tried his luck in three parliamentary elections and five state elections.
Asbor, a former army corporal, said in all his election attempts, he only lost his deposits in the last state election when he faced BN candidate in Kuala Rajang. He was formerly with DAP before parting ways in 1995.
A Melanau who hails from Matu Daro, Asbor has three wives and nine children. His attempt this time, however, did not materialise and had to go home empty-handed.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who is also BN deputy chairman, Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg who is also state BN chairman, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Aman and Santubong MP and BN director of operations Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tunku Jaafar were among BN top leaders who turned up to support Jamilah yesterday.
The by-election is called following the passing of Adenan on Jan 11. A total of 9,771 eligible voters will cast their votes on Feb 18 to decide who will represent them in the State Legislative Assembly.
In the last state election held in May last year, Adenan defeated PKR candidate Jazolkipli Numan with a majority of 5,892 votes. He polled 6,360 votes against Jozolfipli’s 468 votes.
Adenan had been Tanjong Datu assemblyman since 2006. Before that, he was a long-time elected representative of Muara Tuang.
He was also a one-term Sadong Jaya MP from 2004-2008.
Source : Peter Sibon & Lian Cheng @ Borneo Post Online