Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Batang Ai

Batang Ai by-election is seen as the fight between "the beginning of the end" and the "end of the beginning".

There are only 8,006 voters here, with the vast majority being Ibans (7,608), but this election is seen by BN as the end of the beginning of PKR's ambitions in Sarawak, which must call for a state election by next year.

However, PKR has told voters that a win for it would spell the beginning of the end for BN, and specifically Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud's reign.

With Ibans outnumbering the handful of Chinese voters (274), Malays (117) and others (seven), campaigners including those who are not Ibans used the "Rentap" language to woo the community.

Rentap was a feared Iban warrior who fought against James Brooke in the early days of Sarawak's history.

"The underlying cause is the same. In the old days, Rentap fought with spears and machetes against our enemy but now we have to use our brains to keep away the unwanted from ruining our future," said one BN campaigner.

Another from the opposing side said: "Our people have to start an uprising against tyranny and discrimination just like what Rentap did. If you don't fight, we will remain poor."

BN's Malcom Mussen Lamoh and PKR's Jawah Gerang are not only old friends but also share relatives in many of the longhouses.

Obviously, the candidates have not been trading insults but the parties they represent have been at each other's throat.