GE15: PUNCAK BORNEO TO SEE TUSSLE BETWEEN THREE EX-COMRADES
By Rozlin Rusharmeen Rosmin
KUCHING, Nov 6 (Bernama) -- At one time, Datuk Willie Mongin, Iana Akam, and Diog Dios were comrades under one party. However, in the 15th General Election (GE15), they are rivals, competing with each other to capture the Puncak Borneo parliamentary seat and ensure victory for their respective parties.
The three-cornered fight between Willie representing Gabung Parti Sarawak (GPS), Iana of Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB), and Diog of Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the Bidayuh majority seat has attracted attention because of its political dynamics and all candidates were formerly from PKR, known for its reform agenda.
Incumbent, Willie, 47, who is currently running for GPS from Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), and Iana, 47, joined PKR some time ago before parting ways after the 'Sheraton Move’ in 2020 which led to the fall of the PH government, while Diog, 55, has been with PKR since 2018.
Willie, who is also Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, hoped that the voters can judge for themselves his sincerity as a people’s representative who once led the Bidayuh-majority area although he admitted he was responsible for his two opponents joining PKR.
“The victory is not only for Willie Mongin but for GPS at the parliamentary level and victory for the people of Sarawak. If there is sabotage against me, it is also a sabotage against GPS party,” he said.
He has accepted the challenge to contest this election against his 'former teammates' in Puncak Borneo as proof that he practises healthy democracy.
In GE14, Willie won the parliamentary seat on a PKR ticket with a majority of 4,008 votes before joining Bersatu in 2020, and in August he was accepted as member of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), which is the main pillar of GPS.
Meanwhile, Iana said she entered politics as a PKR member in 1999, and after the Sheraton Move, she joined PSB with Baru Bian (Lawas Parliamentary seat candidate) and See Chee How (Batu Lintang state assemblyman).
“When the PH government collapsed, we were divided, but I remained in the opposition and wanted to continue the previous struggle, which was to form a new government that was not with Barisan Nasional or GPS," she said.
As the first female Bidayuh candidate for parliament, Iana, a former teacher and businesswoman, said the issues she would highlight as a candidate for the Puncak Borneo seat include the region's infrastructure, job opportunities for young people, and women's empowerment.
In the 12th Sarawak State Election in December, the mother of three contested for the Serembu state seat on a PSB ticket but lost to GPS candidate Miro Simuh.
Meanwhile, Diog, who is also the Sarawak PH treasurer, said he is not afraid to face his two opponents despite having no experience running as a candidate.
Diog, who was a teacher and lecturer before entering politics in 2016, hopes that each candidate can display healthy competition, considering that they were all under the same "umbrella" before.
Through feedback received at the federal level following the implementation of Undi18 beginning this year, Diog said he is confident that PH has the advantage to form a government on Nov 19.
The Puncak Borneo parliamentary constituency or P198, was first introduced in GE14 after the redelineation exercise and was previously known as Mambong parliamentary constituency. It consists of three state constituencies, namely Mambong, Tarat and Serembu
Based on data from the Election Commission (SPR), out of a total of 1.94 million voters in Sarawak, Puncak Borneo has a total of 79,969 registered voters,50.76 per cent of whom are male voters.