Saturday February 23, 2013
Direct candidates possible
By YU JI
KUCHING: The Prime Minister has not ruled out the possibility of fielding direct Barisan Nasional candidates in the general election.
“Wait and see. When the time comes (it’ll be revealed). I don’t want to jump the gun," Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak told a press conference here yesterday after a meeting with state leaders.
Candidates standing under the Barisan banner have to be a member of one of its component parties but incumbent Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Billy Abit Joo created history when he became the first partyless Barisan candidate to contest in the 1995 polls.
He was given a year to decide which component party to join as there was no provision for anyone to be a Barisan member without belonging to a party in the coalition.
On whether candidates from parties that were not in Barisan but were Barisan-friendly would be fielded, Najib replied: “No, they will not be accepted.”
He said only candidates who could be accepted by the rakyat would be chosen.
“In my visits to constituencies, I can see the response has been very encouraging. I think people have generally benefited from our transformation policies.
“The transformation, with the support of Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, will bring big changes to Sarawak," said Najib.
The meeting saw the attendance of all four presidents of Sarawak Barisan component parties – PBB, SUPP, PRS and SPDP.
Mas Gading MP Datuk Dr Tiki Lafe, who is part of a breakaway group, the unofficial Barisan Nasional Supporters Club, has in the past expressed his wish to be a Barisan candidate.
If direct Barisan candidates are allowed, Dr Tiki – who is one of five SPDP MPs and state assemblymen who have left the party over disagreements with its leadership – could be one of them.
Asked what his party would do if Dr Tiki was chosen as a direct Barisan candidate, SPDP president Tan Sri William Mawan said: “We will cross the bridge when we come to it.”
SPDP has nominated Anthony Nogeh Gumbek, who is Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority deputy general manager, as the candidate for Mas Gading.
Later, senior Barisan leaders were approached for comments.
Tanjong Manis MP Datuk Norah Tun Abdul Rahman noted that Najib wanted committed candidates and unity among component party members.
To a question on the finalisation of candidates, state Barisan secretary-general Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said: “The list has been submitted to the Prime Minister.”
The current Government’s term expires in mid-April.
The Prime Minister can dissolve Parliament any time, paving way for the polls, or wait until Parliament is automatically dissolved, after which polls must be held within 60 days.