After some contacts are made with our previously trained volunteers in Sarawak we are now closer to what can be done for conducting an election observation in Batang Ai by-election: the limitation of resources (lack of funding, short time, resources stretched by 2 other simultaneous by-elections) means that we may adopt the following strategy:
* provide training to observers by sending 1-2 trainers to Batang Ai;
*provide voters education material to Batang Ai for mass circulation;
*arrange for SPR tags for trained observers to do observation inside the polling centres where the observers cast their votes;
* provide internet outlets for the reports they may send by phones/internet etc.
UPDATE1 : 1st pledge of donation has come in-more please, to beat dirty politics from where the voters’ levels are! Put your money on democracy!
UPDATE 2: 2nd pledge of donation is in-thanks to the real Malaysians!
To raise the fund for conducting the observation mission we are calling upon generous Malaysians-whether from the Sarawak or Penisular to donate generously towards the training session which is coming up on Mar 15th in Batang Ai itself. The isolation of the constituency means that more chances for breaches of the rules of free and fair elections to happen-thus the more need to keep the election operation under closer scrutiny. The political importance of the by-election-as a test of popularity of the current Sarawak state governnment, means that the election would be hotly contested-another factors that highten the chance of `dirty politics’!
The training is aimed at empowering the observers to report regularly all the hanky panky that are likely to take place where few people can see.
* airfare and incidental for 1 trainer to go to Batang Ai & back -about Rm1000.00;
* Transport subsidies, communication and training material for trainees to attend the training session at Batang Ai -about Rm 6000.00
So a very economic package for the observation mission. Please donate generously so we can send you precious reports from the ground with 8006 voters. Far as it may be from most Malaysians’ consciousness Batang Ai is as much a part of Malaysia as any other -thus our wish not to ignore the by-election, as we would not other by-elections. With many Sarawakian friends help secured in arranging the trip we hope that you can do your part in keeping the election under as close a scrutiny as we can manage.
Please contact us if you are interested to donate towards the mission: firstname.lastname@example.org 013-5900339 (Ong BK)
Many thanks in advance.
March 06, 2009 19:13 PM
Still A Guessing Game In Batang Ai By-Election
By Caroline Jackson
KUCHING, March 6 (Bernama) — Even before the Election Commission (EC) announced that the Batang Ai state by-election will be held on April 7, the guessing game over who will be the candidate to defend this Iban-majority seat for the Barisan Nasional (BN) has intensified.
Polling in this rural constituency bordering the Indonesian province of Kalimantan, will be simultaneously held with the by-elections for the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat in Perak and Bukit Selambau state seat in Kedah.
While political pundits are certain that the opposition will put up a formidable fight — judging from the results of the May 2006 state polls when the BN incumbent, the late Datuk Dublin Unting Ingkot beat Nicholas Bawin Anggat of Sarawak National Party (SNAP) by 806 votes — the BN still has the edge.
The Batang Ai constituency, which has 8,006 voters, including 43 postal voters, is vacant following the death of Dublin, 55, who was the Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) vice-president and Assistant Sports and Agriculture Minister, on Feb 24 due to a stroke.
With the BN machinery gearing up for the coming polls and the opposition attempting to make inroads into the Iban heartland, the names of several personalities, including those close to Dublin, had cropped up as the likely BN candidate but PRS is keeping mum on the matter.
The latest on the cards was that of senior government officer Malcolm Mossen Lamoh, an engineer with the state Agriculture Department and a local boy, said to be one of Dublin’s close friends who was frequently seen with him at functions and gatherings.
Another engineer, Linang Merejon, from Petronas Carigali, who hails from the same Sebangki Panjai longhouse in Lubok Antu as Dublin, is also said to be favoured by BN leaders besides being described as being “approachable and down-to-earth” by the locals.
Speculations have also centred on two “Nelsons” — Dublin’s private secretary Nelson Naga Alam and Nelson Mujah Girie, the Lubok Antu district officer.
Naga has been servicing the area actively, particularly after Dublin fell into a coma and hospitalised for nine months before his death.
Saying that the candidate’s identity was still confidential, PRS secretary-general Wilfred Nissom said, Naga was not keen to “elbow his way”, having worked for his boss over the past 10 years and knew the sacrifices that would go with the territory.
“However Naga is ready to take up the challenge if he is asked to contest by the BN leadership,” Nissom told Bernama.
In the case of Mujah, his appointment as the polls’ returning officer put to rest the speculations about his potential candidacy.
Mujah, the biological brother of Natural Resources and Enviornment Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas, was quoted as saying that his regular appearances alongside Lubok Antu Member of Parliament William Nyallau Badak in public functions in Batang Ai was in his capacity as district officer and not to be perceived as an attempt to lobby for the seat.
Meanwhile Nissom said PRS president Datuk Seri Dr James Masing had submitted one name to state BN chairman Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and national BN chairman Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for consideration.
“It is confidential and up to the BN leadership to announce,” he said.
On the opposition front, the spotlight is on former Lubok Antu MP Jawah Gerang and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Batang Ai chief Bawin, who narrowly lost to Dublin in the last state polls.