KUCHING: Puncak Borneo, formerly Mambong, is a Bidayuh-majority seat where 65% of the electorate are non-Muslim Bumiputeras.
It also has a sizeable 27% portion of Chinese voters, while Malays make up the rest of the total 42,344 voters.
Puncak Borneo is a new seat carved out from a recent delineation exercise.
Mambong existed since 1996 and was first contested in the 1999 general election. The Pesaka (Dayak) wing of PBB had held the seat ever since.
PBB’s James Dawos Mamit is the incumbent MP. He first won the seat in 1999 when he had to face a tough challenge from Dr Jerip Susil of the State Reform Party (STAR). Jerip lost by 1,672 votes.
That was the toughest challenge for the new candidate from PBB. After 1999, it was smooth sailing for Dawos in three subsequent elections. He won with handsome majorities, defeating PKR or STAR candidates along the way.
In GE13, Dawos won with a good majority of 9,721 votes in a three-cornered contest with PKR’s Willie Mongin and STAR’s Dripin Sakoi.
When Kota Samarahan MP Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib abruptly resigned as deputy tourism minister after less than two years in the post in 2009, Dawos was his replacement.
Today, Dawos is the deputy energy, green technology and water minister in the federal government.
Early last year, Dawos announced that he would not be defending his seat.
He said that given the health issues he was facing, which affected his vision, he was not keen to extend his services as an elected representative.
Following his announcement to retire, an immediate scramble for the seat ensued among PBB leaders in the constituency. At last count, there were no less than eight serious contenders.
But PBB is a very disciplined party and those not selected would normally, albeit grudgingly, close ranks and support the candidate selected by the party.
Those who rebelled against the PBB leadership and contested as independents in the past were banished into political oblivion. PBB people have learnt from history and are now very much aware of the risk they face in defying the party.
GE14 in Puncak Borneo is expected to see a repeat of GE13 in which a BN/PBB candidate will face challengers from PKR and STAR.
Puncak Borneo must not be mistaken for the well-known Puncak Borneo Resort in Ranau, Sabah. The only similarity is in their high elevation as a vast area of the parliamentary constituency in Sarawak is located on high ground, just like the Sabah resort.