March the 19th the President of SNAP Edwin Dundang has already said that SNAP will stay out of its former stronghold Batang Ai by elections. The reasons are obvious as the party has not done its homework and preparations this time round.
SNAP has a track record in Batang Ai as it won the seat in 1970 and 1974 as an opposition party and in the BN government as coalition partner retained the seat in 1979 and 1983.
However in 1987 SNAP-nominated BN candidate Nicholas Bawin lost the seat to Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak’s (PBDS) Mikai Mandau by 83 votes in a three-cornered battle. PBDS was formed by a breakaway Dayak elite group from SNAP during a leadership crisis in 1983.
In the early years SNAP played a significant role in influencing the electorate until PBDS took over the seat in 1987 to 2001 and when PBDS was deregistered PRS took over in 2006.
Much has been speculated in who is joining in this by elections. According to a former PRS Supreme Council member from the northern region of Sarawak who I had dinner with tonight his sources tell him that if SNAP does join in they will make a headway as PKR will be seen as an “outside” party by the locals and SNAP as a party which they still hold sentimental values to it. PKR an “outside”party hmmm..
BN will obviously be only too happy if SNAP is in the picture. The opposition front will thus be divided. Independants as usual will try to be involved in this by elections and they might just prove to be spoilers if the votes are marginal. Surely the two heavyweights of PRS-BN and PKR-Pakatan will not pay too much attention on the independants.
The sentiments are there for SNAP. It must be noted. In the 2006 polls Nicholas Bawin made use of the SNAP symbol to contest and he did credibly well with 2489 voters for him against 3295 for PRS-BN. This was PRS first outing using its new identity and also new flag. But then again it was against an Assistant Minister and also an incumbent.
The word on the ground now is that the market is already offering 300 votes for the BN candidate over the yet to be named PKR candidate. Its amazing how the local bookies can even get the market up? This we have to leave it to the professionals in this field to do their work.
We say as always,” SNAP is not really pushing this time round and they have said they will assist PKR. BN-PRS would have a much easier battle if only SNAP had jumped in.