Barisan Nasional will be pitting an unknown lawyer against Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian in Ba'Kelalan
Liau, who is from the constituency is also SPDP’s youth chief.
Announcing the ‘mystery candidate’ last night SPDP president William Mawan Liau, the greenhorn will replace incumbent Nelson Balang Rining.
Balang retained the Ba’Kelalan seat in 2006 with a hairline 475 vote majority.
Mawan said the choice of fielding Liau, who is in his ‘late 30s’, was in keeping with Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s aspiration for more young leaders.
Lawyer Liau will face Sarawak PKR chairman Baru Bian, who is a softspoken and popular native customary rights lawyer.
Ba’Kelalan, a remote Orang Ulu-dominated area in the Lun Bawang heartlands, has 6,958 voters and has been with BN since it became a separate constituency in 1996.
It is in fact BN’s smallest constituency in terms of voter population.
Bian has been a fixture in Ba’Kelalan. He has twice contested the seat and was both times unsuccessful.
The wind however is seemingly changing in this region.
It was previously speculated that ‘iconic’ Idris Jala, a highly suceesful son from the Kelabit, Orang Ulu tribe, would be selected to stand as the BN candidate here.
Jala is currently a minister in the Prime Minister Department and was speculated to be that ‘mystery candidate’ after BN failed to name a candidate for Ba’Kelalan last Sunday.
But he ended the rumours yesterday when he denied any possibility of going into active politics. Jala is not an elected representative.
The Orang Ulu community have traditionally been BN supporters.
Meanwhile BN’s decision to drop incumbent Balang had shocked many, who felt that as SPDP secretary-general he needed leverage so as to be able to help the people.
But sources here said that Taib was adamant about fielding someone who could ‘handle’ Bian’s questions and calls for debate especially on the land-grab issues.