KUCHING: In the aftermath of the 2013 general election, Richard Riot was the only SUPP man left standing, having successfully defended his Serian parliamentary seat.
SUPP subsequently recommended Riot for a federal minister’s post and he was appointed the human resources minister by Prime Minister Najib Razak.
This time round, Riot is facing Edward Andrew Luwak, the same DAP opponent as in 2013. The third candidate is Senior William Rade, an independent.
While the voters of Serian, who comprise mostly Bidayuhs, are generally loyal to Barisan Nasional (BN), they will not hesitate to vote for a popular independent candidate.
In 1986, an unknown independent, Lainus Andrew Luwak, defeated three-term Serian MP Richard Dampeng of BN/SUPP. In 1990, Riot also contested as an independent and won. He joined SUPP soon after.
However, no one expects a repeat of these feats in Serian this time.
As a federal minister, Riot is able to provide more for the Serian populace and is too well-entrenched for the opposition to shake at this point.
But Edward remains optimistic, saying the voters of Serian are also clamouring for change and that Riot has been there for far too long.
Edward acknowledged he was facing an uphill task but added: “In politics, anything can happen, and we can expect the unexpected in Serian too.”
As for independent Senior Rade, United People’s Party (UPP) president Wong Soon Koh said he was surprised by his candidacy, adding that it had nothing to do with UPP. Senior Rade, the former chairman of the UPP Serian branch, is not expected to trouble Riot either.
Last September, Riot suffered a political backlash when his political secretary, Peter Runin, was arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for alleged involvement in the RM40 million allegedly missing from the Skills Development Fund Corp (SDFC), managed by the human resources ministry.
Several days later, the minister himself was also questioned by MACC for 10 hours in connection with the case.
However, it is doubtful that this will cause the 33,712 voters of Serian, the majority of whom are Riot’s fellow Bidayuhs, to abandon their long-serving MP in the May 9 polls.
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