By Charlie Rudai & Michael Kaung (Free Malaysa Today)
UPDATED AT 6.31PM KOTA KINABALU: Linda Tsen Thau Lin, 54, a housewife and part-time music teacher will be the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for the Batu Sapi parliament by-election.
The widow of MP Edmund Chong Ket Wah is also the deputy wanita chief of the Elopura Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) division that was headed by her late husband who died in a road accident on Oct 9 causing the by-election.
Chief Minister Musa Aman described Tsen as a capable woman who would serve Batu Sapi well.
“It is now time for all BN component parties to work together to ensure victory,” he said today.
Her late husband was the PBS treasurer general and a two-term MP for Batu Sapi , parliamentary constituency with 25,582 voters with 1,535 being postal.
However FMT learnt that PBS supporters in Batu Sapi are reportedly unhappy with the late decision to drop a front-runner as a candidate in favour of Tsen.
State BN leaders had initially contemplated fielding former Sibuga assemblyman Thien Fui Yun in the parliamentary by-election but has since changed their minds at the last minute.
Tsen became the new hot favourite – and subsequently the BN’s choice – after the state BN felt that a local face would be a better candidate. The fact that she was the widow of Edmund Chong, whose death in a road accident on Oct 9 caused the by-election, also played a factor in the decision to pick her.
Sources said PBS president Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who had been given the mandate to select the candidate for BN, had initially opted for Thien.
However, the announcement by the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) that its president and former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee would contest for the seat in the Nov 4 parliamentary by-election, as well as pressure from his right hand man, deputy president Dr Maximus Ongkili, saw Pairin changing his mind, they said.
Thien, a PBS vice president and chief of PBS’ Gum Gum division, a state constituency neighbouring Batu Sapi, was reportedly angered by the decision, said a source.
To quell any hint of rebellion, another source said, PBS deputy president for the Chinese quota, Dr Yee Moh Chai organised a dinner gathering for the party’s Chinese members including Thien at a restaurant in Sandakan last night.
“Supposedly Yee explained to them the reason behind the party’s leadership decision. Thien wants to know why,” said one of the sources.
Voters want local person
Political observers who have been monitoring PBS politics said Pairin has been known to change his mind at the eleventh hour and his decision should come as no surprise to Thien and his supporters.
In the 2008 general election he also shocked incumbent Jornah Mozihim whose name was already announced as a candidate by the state BN chairman a few days earlier, by replacing her with Sarapin Magana as PBS-BN candidate for Matunggong state seat.
Sources said that of Tsen (right) and Thien, Tsen seems to have the advantage with the BN going for sympathy vote to curb the in-roads SAPP, who are considered strong contenders following its call for autonomy for Sabah among others, have made since quitting the BN in 2008.
PBS leaders believe that SAPP’s decision to field Yong is an indication that the party is “going for broke” in the election.
Sabah CM Musa, also the state BN chief, who announced Tsen’s candidacy today, has been reported as saying that BN’s candidate will be a local person who knows and understands the needs of Sandakan people.
“The people of Batu Sapi want a wakil rakyat from the same area who understands their problems better,” he said yesterday.
Ansari is PKR’s pick
The Batu Sapi by-election is expected to see a three-cornered fight with PKR also joining in the fray. The peninsular-based party named seasoned politician-cum-lawyer Ansari Abdullah as its candidate today.
The announcement was made by PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim in the presence of several Pakatan Rakyat leaders here.
Ansari, who is an Anwar loyalist, is Tuaran chief and a central leadership council member. He is also closely linked to deputy president aspirant Azmin Ali.
Sources told FMT that Anwar picked Ansari over others to take advantage of the large number of Muslim bumiputera voters at Batu Sapi.
“In any event Anwar is not keen to win this by-election. He thinks the general election is just around the corner and wants to gauge the support of the Muslims for the party,” said a source.
PKR is also believed to be upset with Yong for failing to step aside to allow for a straight fight between PKR and BN.
Going solely by popularity factor, many Batu Sapi voters believe Yong is the favourite to win this by-election.
There are 25,582 voters including 1,535 postal voters in Batu Sapi comprising 59% or 15,099 Muslim bumiputera, 38% or 9,737 Chinese, 2.69% or 689 non-Muslim bumiputera and 0.22% or 57 others