(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): DAP welcomes the verdict of the Sarawak election court in nullifying the Kemena state assembly seat result which was won unopposed by the Minister for Land Development Datuk Celestine Ujang in the Sarawak state general elections in September last year on the ground that the DAP candidate, Chiew Chu Sing, had been unlawfully disqualified.
It is significant that the election judge, Justice Datuk Suleiman Hashim, in granting the election petition filed by Chiew, Sarawak DAP Vice Chairman and MP for Bintulu, found against the Returning Officer for the constituency, Wilfred Jolly, who was at the time District Officer for Bintulu, on all these main issues:
It is government officers like Wilfred Jolly who misuse and abuse their powers when appointed as Returning Officers to benefit Ministers who give a bad name to the electoral process and system in Sarawak.
The Election Commission should blacklist Wilfred Jolly and ban him from being appointed to Returning Officer or any other positions connected with the conduct of elections.
In fact, the Sarawak State Government should remove him as Principal Assistant Secretary to the Ministry of Land Development as he had clearly acted in a manner which had forfeited the confidence of the people in his integrity and impartiality as a public servant.
The question that the people of Bintulu and Sarawak are asking is whether Wilfred Jolly had been promoted from District Officer to Principal Assistant Secretary in Celestine’s Ministry as a reward for his unlawful disqualification of Chiew as a candidate to engineer a situation where Celestine could be elected unopposed!
His promotion as an officer should also be frozen as he had been proven to be prone to misuse and abuse of powers in the Kemena case.
It is clear that Celestine Ujang was afraid of a contest in the Kemena state assembly seat in the Sarawak state general elections last September, as Kemena was the state constituency where the DAP stood the best chance of making a breakthrough in the Sarawak state general elections.
Why should Celestine Ujang, an Iban leader with Ministerial rank and an incumbent for five terms in Kemena with a voter make-up which comprised 88.4 per cent Ibans, 6.9 per cent Malays and 4.7 per cent Chinese in an electorate of 12,739, be afraid of a contest from the DAP?
There were two good reasons: firstly, Chew’s popularity with the Iban ground in Kemena, which was one reason for his victory in the Bintulu parliamentary constituency in the parliamentary elections in April 1995. Secondly, the unpopularity of Celestine Ujang among the Ibans in Kemena, especially for his failure as Minister for Land Development to protect and look after their native customary rights land.
Although the DAP was quite confident of winning Kemena in the Sarawak state general elections last September, I am not confident that we stand a chance of winning in the forthcoming Kemena by-election, as we will have to fight the entire might and money resources of the Sarawak Barisan Nasional this time.
However, whatever the outcome of the Kemena by-election, the DAP would be doing a great favour to the 12,800 voters of Kemena, who would have the "chance of a lifetime" to benefit from the various "goodies" that would undoubtedly come their way in the by-election.