KUCHING: As a seasoned politician, Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh has won the Bawang Assan state constituency six times in a row, including in the last state election when he contested as the opposition for the first time.
He has also been part of the Sarawak government, holding ministerial positions. Thus, it is no surprise that many Sarawakians know him, especially those in Sibu.
“He is such a senior politician in Sarawak, so most of us know about him,” said an Iban voter in Sibu.
“But, we have not seen him doing much in the last few years despite the Iban community supporting him in the past,” she told New Sarawak Tribune.
The 27-year-old teacher, who wished to be known as Marsha, said Wong’s promises made to the longhouse folk, very often, ended up as empty promises.
“It was sweet at first (when we heard about it) but tasteless at the end (after failing to materialise what he had promised),” she said.
Wong is contesting in the Sibu parliamentary seat in the 15th general election (GE15), challenging the incumbent Oscar Ling and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) candidate Clarence Ting.
As for the DAP, Marsha said, many locals do not really know about Ling, even though he has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sibu since 2013.
“He really needs to work harder or do more to be ‘more visible’ to the people in Sibu,” she said.
She added though the GPS candidate is a newcomer people are very familiar with him, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic and Movement Order Control (MCO).
She said people recognised Ting, who is also the Sibu Municipal Council chairman for his efforts and hard work in assisting the people and local traders during the challenging times.
Sibu is among the Chinese-majority parliamentary seats that the GPS is confident of wresting from DAP in the GE15, especially after winning the Pelawan and Bukit Assek state seats in December last year.
After being held by the DAP for nearly a decade, several long-standing issues in Sibu remain unsolved, thus, whoever wins the seat in the GE15, must be able to tackle the problems immediately, with short-term and long-term solutions.
Marsha opined that there is a need for more proactive measures to manage and mitigate flash floods which frequently affect the low-lying areas in Sibu whenever there is unusually heavy rainfall.
She said something must be done, including a better and effective drainage system to reduce the risk of intense flooding.
“Otherwise, we will end up like Kuala Lumpur or become a flooding city,” she said.
She said the roads in some villages would be another issue that needs to be addressed urgently as they were in a deplorable condition.
One thing the people in Sibu are thankful about, she said, was the upgrading of University College of Technology Sarawak (UCTS) to a full-fledged university now known as Universiti Teknologi Sarawak (UTS), offering education access for Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera students.
“This is one of the commendable efforts and developments in Sibu. But, we also need to attract more investors, which will create more job opportunities with better incomes for our local graduates as well as to retain local talents,” she added.
Oscar Ling Chai Yew of DAP retained the Sibu parliamentary seat by a majority of 11,422 votes in the state’s only four cornered fight. Ling garnered 33,811 votes while BN-SUPP candidate the late Datuk Andrew Wong Kee Yew (Soon Koh’s son) polled 22,389 votes.
The two other candidates, Jamie Tiew Yen Huong of Sarawak Peace Party (Peace) polled 377 votes while Simon Tiong Ing Tung of State Reform Party (STAR) managed to secure only 176 votes. Both candidates lost their deposits.