PUTRAJAYA, 24 Feb 2009: There has to be a by-election for the Sarawak state assembly seat of Batang Ai following the death of assemblyperson Datuk Dublin Unting today.
Election Commission (EC) chairperson Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said this was because the Sarawak state assembly was only over two years old and according to the state constitution, the assembly’s term ends in July 2011.
“Which means there are more than two years to go. So a by-election is necessary,” he told Bernama here.
Abdul Aziz said this when asked to comment on the death of Dublin Unting, 55, the vice-president of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) at the Normah Medical Centre in Kuching at 1.25am today due to a stroke suffered in May last year that left him in a coma.
Speaker to inform EC
In KUCHING, state legislative assembly Speaker Abang Othman Abang Fata said the EC would be notified of the vacancy of the Batang Ai seat by today.
“At the moment we are waiting for the issuance of the death certificate from the National Registration Department so that we can inform the EC,” he told Bernama today.
The Sarawak state election was last held on 20 May 2006 and the Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) won 62 of the 71 seats contested.
Nine seats fell to the opposition, six to the DAP and two to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). One seat was won by an independent candidate.
Sarawak BN comprises Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP).
Two by-elections are already scheduled for 7 April for the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat in Perak and the Bukit Selambau state seat in Kedah.
Another by-election in the Bukit Lanjan state seat in Selangor may also be held if assemblyperson Elizabeth Wong’s resignation over the circulation of intimate photos is accepted by her party, PKR.
BN will defend
In KUALA LUMPUR, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the BN would defend the Batang Ai seat once the EC decides on the nomination and polling dates.
“We have to stand because it was a BN seat. How can we not defend the seat,” said Abdullah, who is also Umno president and BN chairperson.
“When the EC has decided on the dates, we will make preparations to face the by-election,” he told reporters after chairing a meeting of the National Economic Council at Parliament House today.
Dublin Unting (Source: bushido.org) In the last state election held in May 2006, Dublin Unting won the predominantly Iban seat after defeating Nicholas Bawin Anggat of the Sarawak National Party (SNAP) with a 806-vote majority.
He first won the Batang Ai seat in 1991 under the Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) ticket, which was then an opposition party at the state level in a straight fight with Mikai Mandau from the Barisan Nasional (BN).
In the subsequent state elections held in 1996 and 2001, he retained the seat on a BN-PBDS ticket and later joined PRS following PBDS’s deregistration due to an internal leadership crisis in 2004.
PRS president Datuk Seri Dr James Masing said in Kuching, Dublin Unting was a dedicated assemblyperson who was committed to improving the socioeconomic standard of his constituency and the state as a whole.
“He is a person who does not hold any grudges or ill feeling against anybody as far as I know,” he said.
“On behalf of the party I offer my condolences to his family. His dedicated services to the party, constituency and state will be forever remembered,” he added.
Dublin Unting was also state minister for sports and agriculture. He is survived by his wife, Datin Froline Moriah Demies Impoi, two sons and a daughter.
His remains will be brought back to his residence at Jalan Kampung Stutong in Kuching later today. — Bernama