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35 straight fights, 45 multi-cornered in Sarawak election

KUCHING, April 25 — It will be a crowded battle for Sarawak this May 7 with multi-cornered fights to take place in 45 of the 82 seats up for contest, according to information released this afternoon by the Election Commission (EC).

EC chairman Datuk Seri Hashim Abdullah told a press conference that a total of 228 contenders were formally endorsed as candidates for the contest when nominations closed this morning at 10am.

In the 2011 polls, 213 candidates contested for 71 seats in the state legislative assembly.

Of the 45 multi-cornered fights, Hashim said there will be five-cornered fights in five seats, four-cornered fights in 12 seats and three-cornered fights in 28 seats.

Only 35 seats, or less than half the total 82 seats, will witness straight fights between Barisan Nasional’s (BN) candidates and those from the opposition.

The five seats to see five-cornered fights are Batu Kitang, Bukit Semuja, Dudong, Bawang Assan and Jepak.

Hashim also confirmed walkover victories for BN in two seats — Bukit Sari and Bukit Kota — when the ruling pact’s candidates were returned unopposed.

During nominations this morning, Public Utilities Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and BN incumbent Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail were the sole candidates who filed their papers for the Bukit Sari and Bukit Kota seats respectively.

According to Hashim, one PKR candidate — Morni Samsudin — and independent Asbor Abdullah were both disqualified from the contest.

He said Morni's nomination was rejected by Pantai Damai's Returning Officer while Asbor Abdullah's paper was rejected by Kuala Rajang's Returning Officer.

Hashim, in rounding up the final tally of contenders for the polls, said BN will be contesting in 80 seats, PKR in 40 seats, DAP in 31, Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) in 13, PAS in 11, State Reform Party (STAR) in 11 and Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS Baru) in five seats.

There will be a total of 36 independents in the race, he added.

Hashim said the EC expects voter turnout to hit at least 75 per cent this year, compared to 70 per cent in the 2011 polls.

"I call on the eligible voters to exercise their constitutional rights by casting their votes on polling day," he said.

Hashim said he is pleased with the process of nomination as no untoward incidents have been reported.

"In all the 82 constituencies, it was most peaceful. That is why I said before that Sarawak is a very peaceful state.

"But, of course, there were shouts and noisy supporters of political parties and candidates, and these are normal in every election," he said.

Hashim added that results from the polls can be expected some time after 6pm on May 7.

"We expect all the results to be known before midnight on May 7," he added.

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