Top posts

Featured Posts

Greenhorn in a hot seat

Chiew, at 27, is the youngest DAP candidate in
the election.
In late December last year, Christina Chiew’s tenancy agreement expired and she had to move in with a friend while waiting for her new home to be ready. For two months, she lived in Batu Kawah, a small town about an hour’s drive from Kuching.

There she learnt that the residents either bought electrical poles with their own money or went without electricity. She rolled up her pants leg during bouts of torrential rain when floodwater would rise to alarming levels within an hour. And she witnessed the life of hardship that farmers and vegetable sellers lead.

Little did she know that those experiences would presage much bigger things in her relationship with the town.

In early April, DAP announced that it would contest 15 seats in the Sarawak election. Seven of its candidates are greenhorns. Chiew is one of them and she is up in the toughest of battles for the Kuching state seats. Her arena will be Batu Kawah.

“I didn’t even know that I was being considered for candidacy until Violet Yong approached me a few days before the party announced the candidate list.”

Yong is the current assemblywoman for Pending, which she will defend in the coming election. She was the person who put Chiew on her political path, appointing her as a special assistant just one month after she joined DAP last April.

“She said she found me capable,” Chiew said. “She had too much on her hands and needed someone to lighten the workload by corresponding with the state departments to resolve the people’s issues.”

Passion for politics

As it turned out, it wasn’t just Yong who noticed her capabilities. DAP thinks she has the calibre to lead the youth of Sarawak towards the change that it is touting.

Chiew, at 27, is the youngest DAP candidate in the election.

She may be a greenhorn, but she is already stepping into the shoes of a politician.

This interview took place at DAP’s Kuching headquarters. The only room that was available for it was the office of Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen. She walked behind his desk and hesitated as she lightly touched the large brown leather chair, murmuring, “This is YB Chong’s chair.”

But practicality won over self-consciousness and she sat down in it. That chair became hers almost as soon as she started talking about her passion for politics.

“If you read more, you know more,” she said. “And you will know that under the BN government, corruption, cronyism and, especially, unfair education are getting worse.

“I managed to secure a place in Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. But many of my Chinese friends who scored good grades failed to get in because of the quota system. They were forced to go overseas to study. I believe that every Malaysian should have the right to a full education.”

Best shot

And despite holding a Master’s degree in biochemisty, the Sibu-born Chiew says her education isn’t over yet. If she wins in the election, she will enrol in a law programme because “if you want to fight for the people, you need to know the law”.

Right now, however, she would rather not speculate on life after April 16 and instead concentrate on giving it her best shot. She has already acknowledged that Batu Kawah will demand more of her than any other Kuching constituency will of its candidates. Pundits consider it one of the nine hot seats in the election. BN won it in 2006 with a slim majority.

“It’s a tough fight because 58% of the residents there are Chinese, 20% are Malays and 20% are Dayaks,” Chiew explained.

“Our analysis of the 2006 election shows that only 40% of the Chinese and less than 5% of the Malays and Dayaks voted for DAP. So, of course, there is pressure.”

But the pressure is matched by a layer of cool confidence. When asked about BN candidate and incumbent Tan Joo Phoi, Chiew breaks into a wide smile. “Tan Joo Phoi,” she said, repeating the name slowly. “He has a lot of experience, much more than I do. But the constituents say that there hasn’t been much improvement in the last five years.

“Villagers in Kampung Bumbok, especially, say that he hasn’t visited them even once. Almost all of them are Bidayuh and I’m confident of winning at least 80% of their votes.

“Of course, the residents have asked me what change DAP will bring if they vote me in. So I tell them what we have done for Penang and they are satisfied.”

Where would she put her chances on a scale of one to 10? Chiew pondered the question and smiled. “Eight,” she said.

1 comment:

  1. Strange DAP once it knows it has the ears of the people, they just pick anybody as candidate and go they win..


Search This Blog