By Nazmi Suhaimi & Amyra Varkisa
SIBU: Chinese voters in Sibu are open to voting for a non-Chinese candidate for the Sibu parliamentary seat given the candidate has the right qualities and can bring the central region to the next level.
Local medical practitioner Dr John Tang Ing Ching believed that Sibu which is currently held by the opposition, Democratic Action Party (DAP) for a few terms required leadership that is hard to come by.
Alluding to the fact that the composition of voters in Sibu whereby the Chinese is the majority, he said it was difficult for a non-Chinese leader to make their mark.
“Now is the time for us to change the tide – we want to vote for a capable leader regardless of race and religion, if we can start that in Sibu, I hope the whole of Malaysia will be voting along the same line and be united,” he told New Sarawak Tribune.
Dr Tang described Nangka assemblyman Datuk Dr Annuar Rapaee – a name bandied about to be in the running for the Sibu seat as a political heavyweight and has the capability to lead Sibu.
“I have known him for many years – I know he is a hardworking and smart person. As a politician, he has the calibre. When I see that there is a possibility for him to be fielded, I think there is hope for our future.
“We need to think about our future, Dr Annuar is a credible candidate to lead Sibu. I mean he is honest, hardworking and has all the rights virtues that is required in a politician and he is clean as well – these qualities are difficult to come by,” he said.
Being a medical doctor, Dr Tang said he observed first-hand how the State Deputy Minister has assisted the people of Sibu during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Dr Annuar has been there to help us – he has done a lot of work behind the scenes and every day he would update the Sibu people on the COVID-19 situation”.
The Sibu seat would see at least a three-cornered fight between DAP incumbent Oscar Ling, Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh and a Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) candidate.
“Dr Annuar can win, definitely. I mean, Datuk Seri Wong is also a heavyweight, but we want someone who can take Sibu to the next level and to do that, you need a good team.
“GPS is a team where it is united and they can do more to serve the interest of Sarawakians, not just the Sibu people. I think this is close to our hearts (the Chinese), Sarawak needs to be more progressive in securing our rights in the federation,” Dr Tang said.
Always on the ground
Meanwhile, businessman Lim Soon King remembered how the Nangka assemblyman was instrumental in Sibu’s fight against the spread of COVID-19 a few years ago.
“He was ever-present, and always on the ground. The people at the time were clueless as to exactly what to do, but he was there.
“We can see that he is a hardworking leader who is concerned with the plight of the people affected by COVID-19 – unable to go out freely due to the lockdown and unable to provide for their families,” the 30-year-old said.
Lim said the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) vice-president has the compassion and the personal touch which the people appreciated.
“In terms of education, there were many initiatives done to help educate the people of Sibu. This is something that is close to the heart of the people. Despite being a doctor by training and a politician by trade, he is an educator at heart”.
Lim’s sentiments were echoed by 26-year-old businessman Kong Kee Soo who said Dr Annuar has a good track record in developing a number of areas in Sibu whereby the redevelopment of Kemuyang was a boon to the area.
“He has always been on the ground to assist when floods hit low-lying areas in Sibu.
He is a leader for all – regardless of whatever your race is, he is there to help”.
Kong also pointed out that the Nangka state seat – which Dr Annuar won in the last Sarawak State Election for GPS, managed to secure a high number of Chinese votes.
Outside the norm
Another Sibu resident, who wished to only be identified as Ding said locality must be taken into account when fielding a candidate, viewing that such has been accepted as the political culture.
“If you put a candidate the remote areas, do you think a Chinese candidate will win? Likewise, if you field a Bumiputera or Malay in the Chinese area will they win? It is already a culture you know? A political culture.
“If the majority here (in Sibu) is Chinese voters then it is appropriate and suitable to field a Chinese candidate,” he said.
Separately, auditor Vivian Hii Xiao Ying viewed that the candidate factor is crucial in winning the hearts and minds of the voters.
“It is all about fair competition. I think ‘who’ the candidate is the most important indicator.
“As long as the candidate can help Sibu to grow and develop better, then Sibu people will vote for them regardless of which party they belong to,” the 26-year-old said.
Hii said what is crucial is that the candidate would be working for the interest of the people as no one would want a candidate that rests on their laurels.
“So, whether the candidate comes from Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) or PBB or other parties, at the end of the day, the voters will choose the one that can prove their worth and credibility,” she said.