PKR has picked 53-year-old Muslim missionary and political “veteran” Abdul Jalil Bujang to take on Barisan Nasional's political greenhorn, Yossibnosh Balo, in the March 29 by-election for the Balingian state seat.
Jalil, PKR's Bintulu branch secretary, stood – and lost – in the 2011 state election for the predominantly Melanau-Kedayan Jepak seat in Bintulu.
Though Jalil put up a credible showing with 2,342 votes, he was still nowhere within sight of the Barisan Nasional's heavyweight and incumbent Datuk Talib Zulpilip who polled 5,470 votes to win by a 3,128-vote majority in a 5-corner fight that had a candidate from the now deregistered Sarawak National Party (Snap) and two independent candidates.
The Snap candidate and the two independent candidates all lost their deposits.
Talib is the state's assistant minister for tourism and a Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) vice-president.
The Jepak seat has 12,979 voters.
PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, in announcing Jalil's candidacy at the Paramount Hotel in Sibu this afternoon, said though the party did very badly in the 2011 election, they hoped to improve on that this time around.
The party fielded housewife Suriati Abdullah to unseat former chief minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.
She polled 871 votes and lost her deposit. Taib meanwhile romped home to victory with a comfortable 5,154-vote majority, polling 6,210 votes against his cousin, former education minister Datuk Salleh Jafaruddin’s 1,056.
The by-election was called because Taib was forced to vacate the seat he held since 2001 to take up the appointment as the new Yang di-Pertuan Negeri, to succeed Tun Abang Mohammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng whose term expired on February 28.
Jalil, a father of six girls and four boys, was chosen because of his family roots.
Even though he was raised and grew up in Bintulu, his parents were from Kampung Lintang in Balingian. Azmin said Jalil living in Bintulu would not be an issue in the by-election. Jalil lives in Kampung Sibiew.
He said apart from development issues in Balingian which PKR would use in their campaign, Jalil's squeaky clean personality as a religious person is something the party would exploit.
He said Jalil “would give a stiff challenge to any candidate the BN fields”.
Jalil once worked with Sarawak Shell Bhd, Sarawak Pulp Industries, Malaysia LNG Sdn Bhd, and Science Tech Solutions, before venturing into his own business so he could devote more time to missionary work.
The by-election would probably not be a straight fight between Jalil and Balo, a 47 year-old former district officer of Dalat, as rumours have been swirling in Mukah that as many as seven people had indicated that are interested in standing as independent candidates.
Nominations for the by-election are tomorrow at the Mukah Dewan Suarah. – March 16, 2014.