Saturday, April 10, 2010
Sibu Parliamentary By-Election
The untimely demise of Sibu MP Robert Lau, 68, from the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) sees yet another by-election looming for Malaysia. For Sarawak this would be the first parliamentary by-election since the last general election of March 2008. The other by-election in 2009 was the state seat of Batang Ai which was won handsomely by BN. Sarawak holds its state election separately from the parliamentary election, the only state to do so.
Lau, who was also deputy transport minister, had been Sibu MP for five terms, since 1990. He beat Sarawak DAP chief Wong Ho Leng and PKR's Lim Chin Chuang in a three-cornered fight at the 2008 general elections. Lau won by a majority of 3,235 votes in 2008 by bagging 19,138 votes against Wong's 15,903 and Lim's 812.
SUPP is likely again to face stiff competition from DAP in a contest that would set the tone for the upcoming state election which must be held by mid-2011.
Sibu parliamentary constituency, which includes the rich logging town of Sibu, is made up of Chinese (60 percent), Melanau (20 percent), Iban (18 percent) and Orang Ulu (1.1 percent).
Meanwhile, the Election Commission (EC) expects to receive the notice of vacancy for the Sibu seat on Monday following the death of Lau. Chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said the EC would normally announce the dates for the nomination and by-election within 10 days following the vacancy of a seat. He said the EC is expected to meet on April 16 to decide on the poll date. Under election laws, a by-election will have to be called within 60 days. This will be the 11th by-election in the country.