|Batang Ai by-election on April 7|
|Mar 4, 09 12:21pm|
|Polling for the Batang Ai state by-election here will be held on April 7, simultaneously with the polls for the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat in Perak and Bukit Selambau state seat in Kedah.
Election Commission chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said today nomination was fixed for March 29, like for the other two seats. Notice of the writ would be issued on Friday.
The seat fell vacant following the death of incumbent Dublin Unting Ingkot, the Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) vice-president, on Feb 24.
According to Bernama, Abdul Aziz said that after considering several factors, the EC felt that the Sarawak EC officer was ready for the by-election and it was timely to hold the by-elections simultaneously to avoid a long campaigning period.
An allocation of RM400,000 had been approved for the by-election, he told reporters after chairing a two-hour meeting to set the polling date.
A total of 24 polling centres would be opened at schools, longhouses, kindergartens and government premises while 201 workers would be deployed, he said, adding that Batang Ai had 8,006 registered voters comprising 7,963 ordinary and 43 postal voters.
Abdul Aziz said the EC had also agreed to set up an election campaign enforcement team led by an enforcement officer and comprising a police officer, a local authority representative representatives of the candidates to monitor the campaigning besides allowing Malaysia For Free and Fair Election (Mafrel) to act as observers in the by-election.
Dublin won the Iban-majority seat in the state election in May 2006, beating Nicholas Bawin Anggat of Sarawak National Party (Snap) by 806 votes, and was appointed state Assistant Sports and Agriculture Minister. Anwar: We are ready
In a related development, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim told reporters in Parliament that the EC’s decision to hold the by-election on April 7 has “worsened the situation” now that they have three by-elections to focus on.
But he said that his party PKR was ready to face the challenge, adding that he had some suitable candidates in mind.
The PKR, he said, would give a strong challenge to the Barisan Nasional.
“We have a few active candidates in the area and we will consider all of them before making a final decision,” said Anwar.
He added Pakatan Rakyat should not be overly concerned about not having a strong campaign machinery like their arch-rivals BN.
“Many Sarawakians are already familiar with our (party) policy and struggle towards the Dayak people over there,” he said.
(With additional reporting by Rahmah Ghazali)