Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Batang Ai By-election Part 3---An Evening With YB Tian Chua

Tian Chua taking pictures before leaving on a long boat to an Iban longhouse in the interior of Batang Ai.

Changing to wear rubber slippers before boarding the long boat.

Finally seated, he was looking around to take more pictures of the colourful long boats.

A local PKR member with the party flag spearheading our party of 3 long boats cruising to an Iban longhouse at Engkari,about an hour journey crossing the huge Batang Ai lake.

Engkari is a traditional stronghold of the opposition, with Mr. Nicholas Bawin as the leader. Nicholas was leading our entourage which also included several Journalists and leaders of PKR Sarawak.

Upon arrival at the jetty, we saw this pig which had been sacrified to provide a wonderful dinner for the visiting guests.

Some PKR members welcoming the guests.

The longhouse folks were already busy preparing food when we arrived. This lady was cooking rice over a fire. Although electricity is available by way of generator, most households still use wood to cook because diesel to run the generator is not cheap and is sometime scarce.

The men were busy slaughtering the pig and removing the animal's hair after burning it over a fire in an open space behind the longhouse.

Cutting the meat into smaller pieces for easy cooking.

Dinner was ready. Just harvested hill rice to go with 2 different dishes of pork and egg soup. Tian Chua and the rest of the guests were given the honour to dine inside the Tuai Rumah's (headman) house. Every one of us was hungry and in just a short time,we emptied every single dish.

Soon after the dinner, it was time for political ceramah ( gathering for political forum/discussion) The above lady is Ibi Anak Uding, Ketua Wanita (Women Chief) of PKR Sarawak.

Other speakers included the Tuai Rumah (above) and an ex-councillor (below).

Baginda Minda, former PRS (Parti Raykat Sarawak) Publicity Chief for Balleh Branch is a hilarious speaker. He caused a furore last year with a statement accusing Sarawak's dominant party, PBB, as a bully and subsequently resigned from PRS. He has since joined PKR. A search for Baginda's personal information reveal a very interesting fact. He was a witness in Anuar Ibrahim's 1988 corruption trail and he testified under oath that he had sexual intercourse with Uxx while both were guests of Dato Sgn Chee Hua in London.

Nicholas Bawin was made Director Of Operations for the Batang Ai by-election after PKR decided on their candidacy of 5-time former Lubok Antu MP, Jawah Gerang.Nicholas was narrowly defeated by former Batang Ai assemblyman, Datuk Dublin Unting of PRS with a slim majority of 806 votes in the 2006 Sarawak state election. Batang Ai is an Iban-majority seat with 8006 registered voters.

The final speaker for the night was Tian Chua, MP for Batu and PKR National Publicity Chief. It was his first visit to an Iban longhouse in this area and most ordinary people do not know him.

I woke up early the next morning to take these pictues from the varendah of the longhouse.The tranquility of the morning was broken by the engine sound of this long boat (below) passing through the Batang Ai lake.

This is a new 10-door longhouse, separated from the original 23-door longhouse where we were staying for the night.According to the Tuai Rumah, about 20 people died one after another in mysterious circumstances several years ago. These 10 families decided to leave their mother longhouse and build new homes across the lake. It was a correct decision as their move miraculously ended further unexplained death in the longhouse.

The 23-door mother longhouse now has only 13 families. The 10 empty rooms remain, one of them apparently taken up temporarily by several police personnel stationed there to monitor the election.

4 stretcher beds belonging to the police were also found in the common varendah.One of them was still soundly asleep after I had been taking pictures for an hour in the morning.
Bags of newly harvested padi in the ruai (common varendah).

A small group of villagers gathered for discussion before the breakfast.

Tian Chua managed a smile just after waking up. He looked tired, probably without sufficient and proper sleep.But he had slept noisily throughout the night which made me almost wanting to take pictures of him snoring.During breakfast we got to know each other better with very frank and direct exchange of ideas and information. I was particularly interested to know about his active involvement in refomasi, his association with Anuar Ibrahim in the failed attempt to grab power on 916 (September 16, 2008) through defections of elected BN members (especially his mission to Taiwan to meet BN members whom were arranged to leave the country to avoid 916) and the current political and constitutional crisis in Perak.He claimed to speak the truth but unfortunately I am not able to share with you here due to the sensitiveness of the issues.

After a simple breakfast of coffee and milo with biscuits, we left the longhouse to Lubok Antu Town.

The morning was still cool as the sun just started rising up slowly from behind the mountains. Exciting long shadows of the rubber trees on the concrete foot path leading to the jetty invited us to take more pictures of the place before departure.

The controversial 46-year old politician is in the news again this morning. He was late yesterday afternoon to attend a court case against him for biting a policeman on December 11, 2007 while trying to deliver a memorandum to parliament. Tian Chua apologised to Magistrate Faize Che Abu that he was late due to being held up in heavy traffic.Charged under section 332 of the Penal Code,it provides up to 3 years jail or fine or both if convicted.Wish him good luck and he can win the case because the prosecution had forgotten to conduct any test on the saliva left behind on the bite marks found on the shirt of the victim!.If you wish to know more about this man, read it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tian_Chua

Batang Ai By-election Part 2

A large billboard at Lubok Antu Town of BN's candidate for Batang Ai, Mr. Malcom Mussen Lamoh.

Mr. Malcom Mussen Lamoh at an Iban longhouse last Saturday night where a traditional 'Miring' ceremony was held to bless and wish him good luck in the election.

Dato Seri Dr. James Masing, PRS Chairman cum BN's Director Of Operations and also Sarawak's Minister of Land Development (left) and Datuk Joseph Salang, PRS Information Chief and Malaysia's Deputy Water,Energy and Communications Minister were among other VIPs at the 'Miring' ceremony.

PRS operation centre at Lubok Antu.

Temporary tents to accommodate police personnel were put up at many strategic locations within the Lubok Antu District. Police are also stationed in many longhouses.

Longhouses flying the BN flags and posters.

A group of Malay supporters putting up a BN banner in their village.

BN supporters lining up in the open field beside the Lubok Antu Sports Complex and nomination centre.

2-3,000 BN supporters marching towards the nomination centre.

Accompanied by the BN candidate Mr. Malcom Mussen Lamoh, Sarawak Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, the two deputy chief ministers Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr. George Chan and Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Afred Jabu leading other State and Federal Ministers and VIPs on the march to the nomination centre.

Dato Sri Dr. James Masing was seen here with Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr. George Chan.

More BN supporters marching to the nomination centre.

Supporters from BN and PKR standing side by side in the open field of the Lubok Antu Sports Complex .

A police helicopter was seen circling several times above the open field.

Sarawak Chief Minister flied in from Kuching in a helicoper, marched from the BN operation centre to the nomination centre ( about 1 km). He was later driven in this official car to the waiting helicopter after nomination had closed.
I salute this police officer who was very patient and always maintained a big smile while directing heavy traffic on the road infront of the nomination centre.

Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui (wearing white shirt) from BN-SUPP. He is the Federal Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities and SUPP Organising Secretary.

Datuk Dr. Soon Choon Teck, Sarawak Assistant Housing Minister (right) and Datuk David Teng Lung Chi, Sarawak Assistant Minister for Local Government/Assistant Minister for Environment and Food Industries walking towards the nomination centre.