Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nine seats seen as ‘hot’

Tuesday March 29, 2011

Nine seats seen as ‘hot’


KUCHING: The Election Commission (EC) has identified nine state constituencies where it believes there will be intense campaigning.

On the list is Balingian, where Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud is the incumbent.

“Based on our records, we feel that Balingian will be a hot area,” EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said here yesterday.

The other constituencies are: Pantai Damai, Kota Sentosa, Batu Kawah, Kedup, Repok, Dudong, Pelawan and Nangka. Most of these constituencies are those that the Barisan Nasional won with slim majorities in the 2006 state election.

In each of these areas, the EC will field two enforcement teams. However, Wan Ahmad denied that the increased enforcement was based on the Barisan’s ability to win.

“No, we are not choosing according to grey or black areas. These are just areas where the EC has seen a lot of campaign activities in the past,” Ahmad told reporters prior to a seminar for Kuching EC officials.

Based on in-house surveys, Barisan parties are known to label seats with strong opposition support in darker shades.

“Of the nine identified constituencies, most are close to urban areas,” Wan Ahmad said.

Kota Sentosa was won by an opposition party (DAP) in the last election.

Four other areas that would see an increased enforcement presence were those won by SUPP in 2006. In Repok, SUPP won with a majority of only 576 votes while in Pelawan the winning majority was even smaller at 263 votes.

The other two-team constituencies were won by PBB.

The practice of having EC enforcement teams was introduced in 2004.

“Since then, the EC has had at least one enforcement team in each constituency,” Wan Ahmad said.

He said the teams would comprise officers from the police, local councils and representatives of the candidates. An EC official would be appointed to lead each team.

“The team leader will make decisions based on discussions with the members. I think that most of the teams will have about five members in constituencies that will see straight fights,” Wan Ahmad said.

He said the teams would look into legal aspects, like whether banners and rallies had permits, and on sensitive comments and statements.

“We can’t have statements encouraging racial or religious disorder or using the names of the monarchs.”

On illegal banners, he said the EC would grant a 24-hour period for their removal.

“If the offending candidate or party refuse to take down the material, public officials will do it. If people try to stop us, it is against the law,” he said.


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