Bidayuh strongman Manyin looks set on 63-year-old Kajeh

SARAWAK FOCUS: The race for BN candidacy in the new state seat of Bukit Semuja got clearer when 2015 came to a close and 2016 arrived.

A day after Christmas, village chiefs and community leaders were gathered at a house of a senior civil servant for a Christmas lunch. 

He didn’t openly say he was vying for candidacy. But then again, there was really no need for that because you don’t throw a lavish party for nothing, surely not when the grapevine has been sending out signals. 

Besides if he didn’t make any public declaration, his guests, apparently feeling special because of the exclusive lunch invitation, were too happy to say it on his behalf.  

Food certainly has a way with stomachs and people. When the stomach is full, a person is happy, and a happy person doesn’t mind sharing his secrets.  

In any case, the candidacy of this senior government servant is an open secret. 

On the evening of Dec 31, another Bukit Semuja’s potential candidate, Gabriel Kajeh, made his appearance in Kampung Sorak Dayak to join folks for the New Year countdown.

Kampung Sorak Dayak is no happy hunting ground for any politicians, but strangely the more than 300 who played host to Kajeh and his wife Elisabeth gave the couple a rousing welcome.

The master of ceremony, the village chief, and several other speakers of the evening declared him “the BN candidate in waiting”.

Kajeh, clearly happy but humbled, asked to be blessed, which the village priest proceeded to do with gusto.
He only left the party after the midnight big bang with a lot of handshakes and well wishes.

Kajeh, a councillor with the Serian District Council, looks to have won the hearts of the stonehearted. He has clearly started on a firm footing.  

Less than 24 hours later, on the first day of the new year, Frederick Bayoi threw wide open the gate of his double-story house in Serian town to receive friends, relatives and well-wishers. 

The party started at 9.30am and streams of guests came in and out almost non-stop until well past 2pm.
The former five-term assemblyman, now 71, insisted he be considered to contest Bukit Semuja, telling reporters specially invited to the party that he knows the seat like the back of his hand. 

Later in a press conference, about half a dozen of his staunch supporters said they wanted no one else but him – for his easy-to-approach style and helpful nature. 

While a couple of them declared to the press that they would stick by him even if he decides to stand as an independent, the others said the issue of fighting against the BN does not arise. 

But is Bayoi ready to contest as an independent?

Only he can answer that, but more than 25 years of life in active politics, he sure is capable of a fair decision, to him, his party and supporters.

He should be capable of recognising not only his current strengths but past weaknesses as well. 
Twenty-five years as assemblyman is no short period and does speak volume of the man’s plus points. 

Still it would be most unwise to totally ignore the minus points – the shortcomings, which aren’t few. 

It couldn’t have been all perfect, anyway. Indeed there were weaknesses, but before they come out of another person’s mouth, in private Bayoi must be brave and honest enough to give more weight to the cons than the pros. For while he has the experience behind him, he emits little freshness. 

On the other hand, the next serious contender, Kajeh, at 63, is no political greenhorn either. He ran campaigns in every election that Tebedu assemblyman Michael Manyin contested. He also did the same for Serian MP Richard Riot. 

At one time he was chairman of the Serian branch of Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA), a highly respected NGO whose current patron is Manyin, who is a member of Chief Minister Adenan Satem’s Cabinet and a vice-president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB). 

It is understood that Manyin has formed an “interim BN committee” which has been tasked to assess the Bukit Semuja ground for its “winnable” candidate.

Interestingly, Kajeh is a member of this committee, which draws members from the local chapters of PBB, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP).

Of course, United People’s Party (UPP) and Parti Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak (Teras) aren’t in the picture as they are not members of BN. They are neither here nor there, so they are non-starters, to begin with.

Anyway, during his visit to Serian early last month, Adenan was saying Bukit Semuja was created as a gift to the Bidayuh community for the excellent rapport they have with the government.

Manyin, in response, said he would ensure Bukit Semuja and all the other Bidayuh-majority state seats will be convincingly won by BN’s winnable candidates. 

If there is anyone who very badly wants all these seats won by BN, it is Manyin. In other words, Manyin will pick only the best. 

For Bukit Semuja, the best will have to be the one closest to him.

Your guess is as good as mine.-The Ant Daily

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