SARIKEI: The Sarikei wharf is all but covered in Barisan Nasional (BN) and SUPP flags, with only a handful of DAP banners scattered about.
If anything, this is proof of BN-SUPP’s edge over DAP in this town, located along the mighty Rejang River. It is also an indication of BN’s seriousness in wresting the Sarikei parliamentary seat back from the opposition.
DAP’s incumbent Andrew Wong Ling Biu has cause for concern. He is up against BN’s Huang Tiong Sii, a Datuk and one known to have plenty of resources at his disposal.
On top of that, Andrew also has to deal with a third opponent, Wong Chin King of Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK). Chin King is PBK’s sole candidate contesting the May 9 polls in Sarawak.
The PBK man could well be the spoiler in Sarikei, considering the close returns of the previous two elections.
In 2008, Ding Kuong Hiing of BN-SUPP only managed to win Sarikei with a razor-thin 51-vote majority. In 2013, Andrew defeated Ding with only a 505-vote majority.
PBK’s Chin King is likely to take away some of the opposition votes, which could work to BN’s advantage.
An aide of the DAP incumbent said it would be a very close contest again this time. He conceded that it would be a tough fight for DAP, especially as the party is up against an opponent of Huang’s stature.
Huang is reportedly worth some RM300 million, with the bulk of his wealth coming from timber concessions in Papua New Guinea.
Huang was also selected as the BN direct candidate for Repok by the late chief minister Adenan Satem in the 2016 state election. However, he lost narrowly to the DAP candidate.
According to several Sarikei locals FMT spoke to, Huang’s ceramahs in the constituency have attracted as many people as DAP’s.
While this could be due to SUPP’s buffet-style sessions with lucky draws thrown in, Huang is also well known for his generosity and has many hardcore supporters.
SUPP is hoping for the Chinese vote to swing in its favour as in the 2016 state election where it managed to take the state seat of Meradong back from DAP.
Meradong and Repok are the two state seats in the Sarikei constituency. Repok is still in the hands of DAP.
Sarikei can be seen as the most “balanced” seat, with SUPP and DAP holding one state seat each.
In the end, the contest for Sarikei is really too close to call.
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