KUCHING: Sarawak PKR chairman Baru Bian has found the going tough in Selangau, with three days remaining before polling on Wednesday.
Baru’s presence in Selangau led to Barisan Nasional paying serious attention to the constituency.
“Baru decided to contest in Selangau because he thought there was a fair chance to win. The sacking of Selangau incumbent Joseph Entulu from PRS a few days before nomination day and being replaced by a newcomer gave us an indication that the opposition has a chance”, said a key state PKR source.
The party had expected to face many challenges in the Iban-majority seat, a stronghold of Parti Rakyat Sarawak, a BN component party.
On Friday, BN shored up support for its candidate, Rita Insol, when Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg visited the town and announced an allocation of RM57 million to upgrade the Selangau Bazaar.
The allocation includes RM8 million for the construction of the Selangau Mini Sports Complex; RM5 million for the landscaping of the Selangau riverbank; RM2 million for the upgrading of the Kemena-Balingian Road (5km); RM17 million for the upgrading of Siong Hilir Road (16.5km); and RM25 million for the upgrading of Kelebu Road to Rumah Ado.
This tidy sum is something which the people of Selangau consider an “election windfall”.
“It’s good that Baru’s candidacy in Selangau has led to this enormous grant from the CM. Even if Baru loses, he has already helped the Selangau folk”, the PKR man said.
Baru is a two-term state assemblyman for Ba’kelalan. He is popular among his Lun Bawang community and is known throughout Sarawak as a tough NCR land rights lawyer. Baru has won many land dispute cases.
However, judging from the lukewarm response of the Iban folks in Selangau, it is apparent that Baru still needs time to appeal to them.
However, PKR and Baru can be comforted by the fact that his candidacy has been a blessing for the people of Selangau.
In 2013, PKR’s Joshua Jabeng came in third place with 3,891 votes against the Sarawak Workers’ Party’s Sng Chee Hua who polled 4,485 votes. Entulu was the runaway winner, garnering 12,040 and winning by a big majority of 7,555 votes.
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