SIBU, May 16 — Pictures of Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud could hardly be seen in the town centre here throughout the campaign period for today’s by-election.
His party PBB, Sarawak Barisan Nasional’s (BN) biggest party, only put up posters of Malaysia’s longest serving head of a state government in the Malay/Melanau majority area of Kampung Nangka.
The Sibu SUPP publicity Daniel Ngieng defended the absence of Taib’s pictures in the town area, arguing that the mostly Chinese voters were more aware of national issues.
“Because this is a parliamentary election. In the town centre the focus is more on national issues,” Ngieng told The Malaysian Insider.
“So you can only see the pictures of the candidate and the prime minister,” he said but refused to discuss the topic further.
Even Datuk Seri Najib Razak campaigned without Taib’s presence in his last minute appearance in Sibu last night.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman also told an all-Chinese crowd that he had played a major role in convincing Taib to reduce the premiums for renewal of land leases which was announced a day earlier.
The DAP, however, had been telling the voters that a vote for SUPP’s Robert Lau Hui Yew was an endorsement of Taib’s leadership.
At DAP rallies any attack made against Taib would be greeted with loud cheers and thunderous applause.
The DAP has been parading Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng at numerous public rallies to demonstrate Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) ability to govern.
At all campaign stops Lim was always introduced as the chief minister but not of the ‘white-haired’ variety, in reference to Taib’s nickname among Sarawakians.
During the final days of the campaign banners with the words “Bye Bye Taib Dynasty” were put up across the constituency.
Taib had said that he was not bothered with the opposition’s attacks against him.
“Obviously the opposition campaign wants to get all the anti-Taib voters who has been loyal to BN, to vote the opposition this time,” said a Sibu civil servant who only wanted to be known as Johari.
“But it will backfire because those who don’t like him also believe that there will be no stability without him,” he added.
But the younger Malay/Melanau of Sibu do not think highly of Taib either.
The youths in the traditional villages tell many jokes relating to Taib’s alleged abuse of powers.
“Younger generation just want change of leadership. We know Sarawak is rich but the villagers do not get anything,” said a Kampung Nangka voter who did not want to be named as he works for a GLC.
”But he will remain in power as the older generation can’t think of anyone else to be the CM,” he said.