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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

> PKR names Jawah Gerang for Batang Ai

After a number of delays, the de facto leader of PKR Anwar Ibrahim today named the former member of parliament for Lubok Antu Jawah Gerang as its candidate for the Batang Ai by-election which is to be held on April 7.

Anwar was supposed to have announced the name of the candidate on arrival at the Kuching International Airport yesterday, but adjourned the announcement to today.

He made the announcement at the Kuching airport just before leaving for Kuala Lumpur this morning.

Anwar told reporters that he decided on Jawah, 55, after gathering various views and feedback from several longhouse elders who came to meet him at Rumah Lepang, Sayat, Lubok Antu.

He said that he found that Jawah was not only the favourite choice to face Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, 50, of the Barisan Nasional, but also had every chance to win the seat for Pakatan Rakyat.

In introducing Jawah to the press, Anwar also appointed Nicholas Bawin as the director of operations for the by-election.

"I hope everybody will give their cooperation as PKR is confident in Jawah's ability in solving the people's problems and in looking after the interests of all communities in the state.

"I believe that with the strong partnership of Jawah and Nicholas, PKR can wrest the Batang Ai seat," added Anwar.

Jawah meanwhile said that he would work hard to deliver the seat.

"I believe we can make a good start," he said, referring to PKR's planned assault on the state during the next state elections due to be held in the next two years. 

A former banker with economics degree

Anwar also called on Bawin's supporters to work together in order to ensure victory for the party and to fight BN's cash-rich machinery.

Bawin contested for the Batang Ai seat in the May 2006 state election and lost narrowly by 806 votes to incumbent, the late Dublin Unting Ingot.

He was hotly tipped to contest again for the seat but Anwar obviously had other ideas.

Also present at the press conference were DAP state assemblyperson for Pending Violet Yong and veteran DAP state leader Chong Siew Chiang.

Jawah was the member of parliament for Lubok Antu for five terms. He is a graduate in economics from University of Malaya.

He worked with a bank in Kuching before being recruited by the now defunct Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) to contest the Lubok Antu parliamentary by-election in 1987. He was then returned unopposed in 1990 and 1995 elections.

This is Jawah's first time contesting for a state seat. His opponent is Malcolm Mussen who was named last week by BN as its candidate.

Noted for his fiery speeches, Jawah has become something of a symbol or even an icon in Batang Ai for his courage in articulating Iban issues which did not endear him to the top leadership of the state BN.

The Batang Ai constituency which fell vacant following the death of Dublin Unting on Feb 24 is part of the Lubok Antu parliamentary constituency and it has about 8,000 voters. The other state constituency is Engkilili - Malaysiakini.