Out-of-town voters to be flown into Ba’Kelalan

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Rurum Kelabit Association of Sarawak has chartered planes to fly their members from Miri to Bario to vote.

KUCHING: Located close to the border between Sarawak and Kalimantan, Indonesia, Bario is one of the polling stations in the Ba’Kelalan constituency.

Ba’Kelalan is where Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian is contesting in the 10th state election. Squaring with him is a young lawyer and political novice Willie Liang from Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP).

Liang is hoping to ride on BN’s history and convince Bario’s native Kelabits to back the BN in his first political battle against “giant” Bian.

BN has held Ba’Kelalan since 1996 when it was first marked a constituency.

But Bian is also known here. Since last Sunday Bian has been making the long arduous travel into the interior villagers which come under the Ba’Kelalan constituency.

He’s not leaving anything to chance.

Speaking to FMT recently, Bian said that “people were responsive” to him and it gave him confidence that this time will be different.

Bian has contested twice in this seat. Both times he was unlucky. In 2006, he lost to SPDP’s Nelson Rinning by a narrow 475 votes.

Ba’Kelalan, which is dominated by the Orang Ulu, has 6,958 voters, the smallest number in the 71 constituencies to be contested.

Meanwhile an official at the polling station in Bario said that 107 registred voters have returned to the highlands in time to cast their votes.

The community is optimistics that more will be arriving in the coming days.

Borneo Post reported that the Rurum Kelabit Association of Sarawak had chartered 13 return flights to ferry voters from Miri to Bario and vice-versa.

According to the report the “chartered flights were to transport voters to the constituency”, including those who arrived from the peninsular and Sabah.

New road project in place

A new 75 kilometre road project from Long Luping to Ba Kelalan is also underway but BN leaders have denied claims that the project was an election sweetener.

Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who visited this remote constituency early this week said the army had been seconded to build the road.

“This has nothing to do with the election because the military has nothing to do with election,” he said.

He added the “project is being carried out because the government is concerned about the people’s welfare”.

He said the military was helping under its ‘Jiwa Murni’ programme.

Zahid also dismissed rumours that former Ba’Kelalan incumbent Balang Rinning had shifted his support to Bian after the coalition dropped his candidacy.


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