Saturday, 27 April 2013

GE13: Hulu Rajang warriors ready for ‘marathon’


MIRI: The Hulu Rajang parliamentary area, the size of Pahang, is one of the country's biggest constituencies, with logistics proving to be a challenge to candidates in the general election.

Candidates in the constituency, which is located in the Kapit division in Sarawak, often have to rely on boats and helicopters to travel far into the rural areas to reach their voters.

Where travel by road is possible, it can take a whole day just to reach longhouses along timber treks on a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

For Ukau Renang, who is a councillor for Kapit, the winner in Hulu Rajang will be the one who has more energy and financial resources.

“During this 15-day campaign period, whoever can stand this marathon' until the end will be the winner,” he said.

For Ukau, though, the race is only between Sarawak Workers Party vice-president George Lagong, 53, who is also Pelagus assemblyman, and first-time candidate, Barisan Nasional's Wilson Ugak Kumbong, 53.

The other candidate is PKR's lawyer Abun Sui Anyit.

After a slow start last week, campaigning is picking up momentum, particularly for Ugak's team.

Despite the initial confusion between the old and the new campaign machinery teams, both are now rallying together with optimism to make an impact in the week or so leading up to polling day.

It has been reported that Hulu Rajang is one of the seats where there is no telling how the votes will swing.

Belaga assemblyman Liwan Lagang, who was Ugak's proposer on nomination day, said he reassembled the team at his Uma Daro in Asap and made his longhouse the base of operations to campaign in Belaga.

Pemanca Tony Kulleh of Uma Bakah said they hit the ground yesterday to make sure that Barisan had the edge in Belaga.

Asked if the votes would swing in favour of Ugak by next week, he replied: “More or less.”

The neck-and-neck race between Lagong and Ugak is expected to peak next week, with Lagong making his way into the Belaga, including Asap, areas.

Lagong said his chances of winning Hulu Rajang were brighter now that former MP Datuk Billy Abit Joo was not contesting.

For many disappointed supporters of Billy, who is from Uma Belor Asap Belaga, the chances of them voting for Lagong are possible unless Ugak can convince them to continue supporting Barisan.

However, Liwan is confident that the voters, especially among the Orang Ulu people, will stay with Barisan.-thestar online

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