GPS names former anti-drug chief for Jepak seat

Desmond Davidson

Iskandar Turkee will contest the Jepak by-election on a GPS ticket on November 4. – Sarawak Public Communication Unit pic, October 18, 2023.

GABUNGAN Parti Sarawak (GPS) has named Iskandar Turkee, who is former state anti-drug agency chief, candidate for the November 4 Jepak by-election.

GPS chairman and Sarawak Premier Abang Johari Openg announced the 54-year-old’s candidacy in a brief ceremony in Bintulu this afternoon.

Iskandar, from the indigenous Vaie group found predominantly in Bintulu, was set to face at least two other candidates for this seat that fell vacant when incumbent Talib Zulpilip died on September 15 from kidney complications.

The 72 year-old Talib held the seat for six terms.

Iskandar is a member of the Sarawak Social Council and is on the one-stop committee tackling drug issues in Sarawak, as well as a member of the state Malaysian Anti-Drug Association, better known by its Malay acronym Pemadam.

In the 2021 state elections, Talib, despite his failing health, retained his seat by fending off three challengers – Parti Sarawak Bersatu’s (PSB) Rabaah Tudin, Parti Bumi Kenyalang’s (PBK) Stevenson Joseph Sumbang and Independent candidate Tuah Kazan.

He picked up 6,277 votes and won with a majority of 4,243.

Rabaah, his closest challenger, managed to garner 2,034 votes, Stevenson garnered 587 votes, and Tuah received 141.

Despite losing his deposit, Stevenson has again been fielded by PBK to contest the Jepak by-election.

Parti Aspirasi Rakyat Sarawak named a Bintulu businessman Chieng Lea Phin its candidate to contest the seat of 22,804 voters.

The 64 year-old Chieng, whose business interests were in the precious stones and hospitality industries, has been in Aspirasi since 2014.

PKR, which sat out the 2021 state elections, said it would sit out this by-election.

PKR announced it would not field a candidate “as a sign of solidarity with GPS”, its partner in the federal Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional unity government.

Most political pundits dismissed the chances of candidates from “small parties” in the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) stronghold.

PBB is the lynchpin of the four-party GPS bloc. The other three are Sarawak United People’s Party, Parti Rakyat Sarawak and Progressive Democratic Party. – October 18, 2023.

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