8 SEATS TO WATCH IN THE SARAWAK POLLS TOMORROW, DEC 18, 2021
KUCHING, SARAWAK : The Sarawak Elections are just a day away and many observers are expecting Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) to breeze to a comfortable two-thirds majority win in the state assembly.
But it will not be a walkover. There are some seats that will see close fights.
A total of 347 candidates and 10 parties are contesting for the 82 seats up for grabs, including GPS, Pakatan Harapan (PH), Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB), Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK), Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB) and Parti Aspirasi Rakyat Sarawak (Aspirasi).
Now, takes a look of eight (8) key seats, with analysts Council of Professors fellow Jeniri Amir, University Malaya's Awang Azman Pawi, and Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellowe Oh Ei Sun weighing in on the likely winners.
Leaving Kota Sentora after 15 years, Sarawak PH chief Chong Chieng Jen will contest in this hot seat against Kuching South City Council mayor Wee Hong Seng of GPS.
The seat has been with the opposition since 2006, but incumbent Wong King Wei is not defending it, having resigned from DAP.
While Chong has been accused of " running away " from Kota Sentosa, Wee also courted controversy recently after Kuching's Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) claimed it did not nominate him as its candidate. Wee dismissed it as an " internal matter " but the issue will no doubt affect his prospects of winning Padungan. The pair will also be vying against Aspirasi's Lina Soo and PBK's Raymond Thong in a four (4) cornered fight.
Jeniri : DAP
Awang Azman : 50 - 50 between GPS and DAP
Oh: Too Close TO Call
2# BATU LINTANG
The seat has been held by PKR since 2011 but this changed in 2020 when its incumbent, See Chee How, was sacked from the party following the Sheraton Move. He is seeking to be elected for a third (3) term, this time under newcomers PSB. However, he faces a crowded field with four (4) others vying for his seat, including newbie Cherishe Ng from his former party, as well as PBK's Voon Lee Shan, who was the Batu Lintang assemblyman for DAP from 2006 to 2011. GPS's Sih Hua Tong and Aspirasi's Leong Shaow Tung are also contesting for the seat. In 2016, See defended the seat with a 4,385 majority.
Jeniri : PSB
Awang Azman: 50 - 50 between PSB and PKR
3# KOTA SENTOSA
The DAP stronghold has been held by the party since 2006, after the constituency was created the year earlier. But Chong, the three-term incumbent, will not be defending the seat, with his special assistant, Michael Kong, taking his place.
Kong faces GPS's Wilfread Yap, who had accused Chong of performing poorly in the past five (5) years and " running away " to Padungan. Yap, who had lost to Chong in 2016 by 2,819 votes, will seek to wrest the seat from DAP, while fending off candidates from PSB, Aspirasi and PBK.
Awang Azman: DAP
4# BATU KAWAH
Incumbent Dr Sim Kui Hian, of GPS, is the favourite to win this Chinese-majority seat. But the SUPP president faces a formidable challenger in DAP's Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, who has been growing in popularity since he was elected in 2018. While Sim and Yii are both well-liked figures, the former might just edge it thanks to his performance in Batu Kawah and as state housing and local government minister for the past five (5) years. Other than Yii, Sim will also be up against PBK's Chai Kueh Khun and Aspirasi's Fong Pau Teck.
Jeniri : GPS
Awang Azman : 50 - 50 between GPS and DAP
The seat previously known as Bengoh was won by Jerip Susil in the last elections as a BN candidate but he is hoping to defend the seat as a GPS candidate this time. Jerip had won the seat three (3) times before quitting BN component SUPP to join the BN-friendly United People's Party, which was eventually rebranded as PSB in 2018. After a year in the opposition, he quit PSB and joined GPS. Jerip will be challenged by PSB's Sanjan Daik, DAP's Chang Hon Hiung, Aspirasi's Chong Siew Hung and Joshua Ramon of PBK.
Awang Azman: 50 - 50 betwen GPS and PSB
GPS's Francis Hardin Hollis is seeking to retain the Simanggang seat for a sixt (6) term, having been first elected in 1996. But a possible cause for concern for the state assistant minister is how his winning majority has dwindled over the years from nearly 7,000 in 2001 to 1,388 in 2016. His closest contenders in this election will be DAP's Leon Jimat Donald, who is contesting the seat for the third (3) time, and PSB's Walsin Wilson Entabang, a former civil servant. PBK has also fielded a candidate in this predominantly Iban seat.
Awang Azman: 50-50 between GPS and DAP
Oh: 50-50 between GPS and DAP
No one party can claim this seat as a stronghold, with the seat changing hands between BN, DAP and PSB in the past decade. A mixed constituency comprising 52% Chinese and 48% Bumiputera voters, this seat has the most number of candidates contesting in this polls, with an eight (8) cornered fight awaiting GPS's Tiong King Sing, Malaysia's special envoy to China.
Tiong is a familiar face as he has been Bintulu MP since 1999, but this will be the PDP President's first time contesting for a state seat. He faces candidates from DAP, PSB, PBK, PBDSB, Aspirasi and two other independents.
Unanimous, GPS to win
One of only four (4) straight fights in the elections, the battle for Tamin involves two (2) figures who have represented the constituency before. GPS's Christopher Gira Sambang, the incumbent, will be facing off against veteran Joseph Entulu Belaun, who was the Tamin assemblyman from 1991 to 2006 and MP for Selangau for three (3) terms until 2018.
Joseph, formerly from GPS component PRS, was also a federal minister until the fall of the BN government. Suffice to say, it will not be a walk in the park for Christopher, who won the seat with a 2,085 majority in 2016.
Awang Azman: 50-50 between PSB and GPS
Oh: Too Close To Call
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@ Jackie San