Monday, May 24, 2010

The Sibu By-election

Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew, former 5-term MP for Sibu and former Deputy Transport Minister passed away after a short illness on April 9. His death triggered a by-election never seen in Sibu's 100-year history. Lau was a flamboyant accountant, businessman and politician.A lot of people didn't like him when he served Sibu as the municipal's chairman. But he initiated many changes and brought about much development to this little town on the bank of the mighty Rajang River.To be fair, if it was not for his commitments and contributions, Sibu would not be what it is today.Personally I best remember him as a friend when we played mahjong and also watched a movie together in his house....28 years ago.The above picture was taken last November when there was no visible sign of him suffering from liver cancer.

Sarawak Head of State Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin openly wept when he came all the way from Kuching to pay his last respect to the late Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew. Lau's widow Datin Janet Lau and daughter Tammy were sitting next to him.

Although in the beginning he said he would groom young people and give the chance to others in DAP to contest in the by-election, the party eventully still wanted Wong Ho Leng to contest.The charismatic and sometime fiery Ho Leng is Sarawak DAP chairman and also state assemblyman for Bukit Assek.

Sarawak United People's party (SUPP) president Tan Sri Dr George Chan (left) in below picture officially announced the BN/SUPP candidate for the Sibu by-election, Robert Lau Hui Yew (right) on April 28. Also in the picture was Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, Sibu SUPP chairman and Sarawak Second Finance Minister. Hui Yew has been a personal friend for more than 15 years...we used to go for photography outings before.

After the successful filing of their nomination papers...Independent Narawi Haron (left) BN's Robert Lau Hui Yew (middle) and DAP's Wong Ho Leng (right)

Supporters from both side of the political divide on nomination day.

On nomination day on May 8, every one looked so confident of winning the by-election.What went wrong? I could easily list down 10 good reasons...but who will listen?, after all it's not my job as well.

Accompanied by BN candidate Robert Lau Hui Yew,Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib waved to Sibu voters at Channel Road on May 13.

It was Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's 3rd visit to Sibu Central Market in 4 months! What is so special about this market? It is the biggest market and perhaps also the best managed and maintained market in Sarawak (some also claim it is the biggest in Malaysia) The market was built in the 90s when the late Datuk Robert Lau was the chairman of Sibu Municipal Council.

PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anuar Ibrahim, DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang and PAS deputy president Nasaruddin Mat Isa...announced the formation of Pakatan Rakyat Sarawak to fight the Sibu by-election as a common front.

"The Lion of Jelutong" Karpal Singh, his son Gobin Singh Deo and MP for Jelutong Jeff Ooi also visited Sibu Central Market. Like all visitors to the market,they were impressed by the chicken wrapped in newspaper.

DPM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin made 4 trips to Sibu during the by-election. He was seen here with Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and others to launch the national unity week. On the same night Taib also announced a 50% reduction on land premium...but it came too late and did not make any impact on the by-election.

PM Najib did not lead the Tua Pek Kong procession as earlier planned. He came and went in just 3 minutes as alledged by DAP advisor, Lim Kit Siang (below) who had waited infront of Sibu Tua Pek Kong Temple with other DAP leaders to welcome the Prime Minister.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Ong Yen Yen said it was her first visit to an Iban longhouse. She came to Sibu to help campaign in an Iban longhouse in Bawang Assan area.

Alaric Soh Productions did it again.It successfully organised the Miss Tourism Intercontinental 2010 in Miri. He brought the contestants to Sibu for a preview and charity dinner. During their 3-day stay in Sibu the girls posed for more than 30 photographers in a model photography contest organised by Sibu Photographic Society. Miss Venezuela Myriam Janeth Abreu Medina (above and below) was crowned Miss Tourism Intercontinental 2010.

Miss Japan Saemi Masuda (left) and Miss Korea Hannah Choi (right) were crowned Miss Friendship.

Organiser of Miss Tourism Intercontinental 2010, Alaric Soh reading The Star with Miss Hong Kong Liu Ya Ling (left) and Miss Taiwan Chen Pei Ying (right).

Miss Malaysia, Darcia Marselynna from Miri. She won the subsidary title "Miss 1Malaysia"

Instead of seeing and covering politicians campaigning every day at the Sibu Central Market...these beautiful girls from 33 countries really brought relief to both the hawkers and also the journalists covering the by-election.

Goodies for the longhouse people....thousands of bags filled with packaged food were sent by boats and 4-WD to longhouses. Did other Sibu voters get anything?

The final night of campaigning...DAP managed to attract a crowd of more than 10,000 people to their Super Saturday Rally.

DAP conducted its own tallying of votes at their headquarters with their agents on the ground reporting back the results from each polling centre.

Before 7 pm, DAP leaders and supporters were already confident of winning the by-election as unofficial results already put them in the lead. But official counting of the votes suddenly slowed down and then came to a complete halt.

Tension ran high between DAP leaders and officials from the Election Commission when vote counting was stopped without any explanation at the Sibu Civic Centre.

The final boxes of postal votes eventually arrived at the Sibu Civic Centre at 22.40.......

.....and the final tally....Ho Leng won by a slim majority of 398 votes. Hui Yew garnered 18,447 votes and Narawi only got 232 votes.

Finally, after more than 2 hours' delay, the winner was declared.

Hui Yew was gentleman enough to congratulate Ho Leng...and he came alone.

DAP secretary general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng congratulating Ho Leng before a press conference attended by more than 20 journalists and photographers.

The loser also held a press was a totally different atmosphere as you could see from their facial expressions.

The gang of 4 got together again after the by-election was over and we had a big feast for 4 continuous nights.The final night was in a posh hotel room where we had a 3-kg "Soon Hock" and a suckling pig, among others.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March Highlights

VIPs reading The Star's Sarawak Edition after its launching on March 7 at The Spring in Kuching.

A kiss to remember on International Women's Day.

He said: no inspiration yet on the date of the state election.

It's fun and an forgetable experience being invited to lunch with Iban farmers in their padi field.

Sarawak Timber Association (STA) making its annual donation to independent private Chinese schools in the state.

At least someone who and medical aids to the Penan of Ulu Baram from corporate and medical bodies.

3 sisters from a poor family studying under a candle light...just 10 km from Kuching City.

Two days before he was appointed assistant minister in the Chief Minister's office, Tang Joo Phoi visited this 12-year-old girl who lives with her mother and 2 younger sisters in a small wooden hut near Kuching.

Unfinished business...Sarawak Head of State Tun Salahuddin stopped to listen to Dr. Mahadir, the eldest son of the late Sulaiman Daud, while wearing socks.

Alfred Jabu meeting his former boss, Tun Rahman. On his right is Michael Menyin.

Tun Rahman Yakub (middle) and his young wife (right) sharing a joke with their friend Datuk Simon Maja (left) .Overheard their conversations..... Simon: Tun, you are still very healthy and strong. Tun: Ask my wife if I am still strong.

So many rumours about this thing for sure is he is not moving around with a dozen body guards.

Sarawak Head of State watching the Rajang River Regatta with family memebrs and state ministers

Iban maids in colouful costumes dancing for ministers at a longhouse in Tamin, 57 km from Sibu.

Have been covering CM's functions from Sibu to Mukah to Kuching.

Thronged by reporters whenever and wherever he goes.

The new president of the Photographic Society of Sibu, Steve Ling.

Bick Yee, one of our favourite models posing for a recent photography competition.

Someone I know since she was 4 years already a gorgeous lady.

These are our usual drinking buddies

Vietnamese friend, Larry (right) with members of a Filippino band at Hijau Fun Pub, RH Hotel.