GE15: LAWAS TO WITNESS CLASH OF TWO LUN BAWANG TOP POLITICAL LEADERS
By Muhammad Ammar Shafiq Hamzah
LAWAS, Nov 7 (Bernama) -- Datuk Henry Sum Agong’s calm and friendly demeanour speaks volumes of his years of experience as a politician, which has served him well in his capacity as the state’s policymaker.
Henry is no stranger to the Lawas area, as he was the MP for three terms from 2008 to 2022 and before that, for Bukit Mas from 1999 to 2008.
The 76-year-old politician is defending the Lawas seat under Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) for the 15th General Election (GE15).
He admitted that Lawas was still far behind in terms of development but he hoped people would give him another chance so that he can complete the unfinished task.
“There are so many needs still unfulfilled due to the remote location of our area...(but) we cannot meet all these needs overnight, we have to take our time," he said at the event.
Henry created history in 2016 when he was appointed as the Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism, thus making him the first leader from the Lun Bawang community to hold the deputy minister post at the federal level.
In GE15, a tough fight is expected at the Lawas parliamentary seat as Henry will face another prominent candidate in the Lun Bawang community, Baru Bian, 64, from Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) who is also no stranger to the Lun Bawang community.
He made his history in 2018 when he was appointed Public Works Minister, becoming the community's first full-fledged federal minister.
In a statement after the nomination on Nov 5, Baru Bian asked for the support of Lawas residents, who he said needed an effective and strong voice in the Dewan Rakyat, especially when it comes to raising development and drug abuse issues in the constituency.
Apart from Henry and Baru Bian, another candidate vying for the Lawas seat which has 33,655 registered voters is Japar Suyut from Pakatan Harapan (PH).
Universiti Malaya Centre for Democracy and Elections (UMcedel) socio-political analyst Associate Professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said Baru Bian will face a tough challenge, especially given that Henry has been in the area for so many years.
“Baru is also not a sloppy character, he is capable of competing but I expect him to face a difficult and risky challenge. Henry has strong support not only from the party but also from the state government," he said.
The Election Commission (EC) set polling day on Nov 19 and early voting on Nov 15.
Based on local narratives 'Lawas' was taken from the word ‘Luas’ (wide), but in GE15, the vast area could only accommodate one person to represent the people’s voice in Dewan Rakyat.