SIBU: There will be at least eight hotly-contested seats in Sarawak’s central region.
SUPP and Barisan Nasional direct candidates will face off with DAP’s in seats where voters predominantly vote for the Opposition.
There was initially much speculation whom DAP would field to defend the Bukit Assek seat, last won by the late Wong Ho Leng, but it all ended when his widow Irene Chang stepped up to the plate.
Chang is facing a tough fight with two other candidates, Chieng Buong Toon (SUPP) and Moh Hiong King (Star). In 2011, Chieng lost by a large majority of 8,827 votes to Wong.
DAP might retain this seat due to sympathy votes.
Bukit Assek has 28,341 voters.
This is another Sibu hot seat with the Opposition trying to unseat incumbent Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh. Wong has been renominated to defend his seat as a Barisan direct candidate.
The question is if he will get the support of SUPP, whose potential candidate Robert Lau Hui Yew was not chosen to contest?
The fight for the seat this time is a crowded affair with five candidates in the contest, namely Wong himself, 40-year old businessman Wong Sing Wei (Star); Stanley Chiew, a new candidate from DAP; and independent candidates Watson Bangau, the former Bawang Assan PBB branch chairman and Yeu Bang Kor from the Sarawak for Sarawakians movement.
Bawang Assan has a total of 18,340 voters and is a predominantly Chinese area with the community making up 55.1% of the voters, followed by Ibans (38.8%) and Malays/Melanau (5.3%).
Incumbent Yap Hoi Liong of DAP defeated former SUPP member Datuk Tiong Thai King by only 317 votes in the last election. Tiong’s loss then was expected due to internal SUPP squabbles on its choice of candidate.
Tiong resigned as Dudong UPP branch chairman to contest as a Barisan direct candidate.
The fight for the seat in this Chinese-majority area is between five candidates, with the other three being independent candidates Datuk Seri Benny Lee, the former Dudong SUPP branch vice-chairman; Mary Ting (Star) and Casper Kayong.
Dudong has 29,028 voters.
Incumbent David Wong (DAP) is defending the seat he won in the last election by defeating Vincent Goh Chung Siong of SUPP by a majority of 6,391 votes.
The seat, once a Barisan stronghold, will see a three-cornered fight between Wong, Barisan direct candidate Kapitan Datuk Janet Lau and prominent lawyer Priscilla Lau from Star.
Lau is the wife of the late Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew, the former deputy works minister.
This constituency has 32,233 voters, making it the largest of the 82 seats in the state.
Three new faces are contesting the hot seat of Repok – Datuk Seri Huang Tiong Sii (SUPP), Yong Siew Wei (DAP) and former Sarikei DAP secretary Wong Ching King.
The incumbent, DAP’s Dr Wong Hua Seh, is not contesting due to poor health. The seat was a Barisan stronghold until eight-term assemblyman David Teng Lung Chi of SUPP, who lost in the last election to Dr Wong by 2,679 votes.
There are 20,263 voters in Repok.
This is one of the smallest urban constituencies with only 16,882 voters. In the 2006 election, SUPP lost the seat to DAP’s Ting Tze Fui due to infighting over its candidate, which eventually led to the formation of the breakaway party UPP.
This time around, it will be a straight fight between Ting and SUPP’s Ding Kuong Hiing.
Similar to Repok, the Opposition could get to keep the seat for the third time unless UPP members decide to support Ding.-thestar