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EC airlifts ballot boxes for Batang Ai

LUBOK ANTU, 6 April 2009: The Election Commission (EC) has transported 11 ballot boxes, four by air and the rest by river, to the remote areas of the Batang Ai state constituency inaccessible by road, ahead of tomorrow’s by-election.

Sarawak EC director Takun Sunggah said today that rain over the last few days had left several roads submerged in floodwaters and cut off the land route to these remote areas.

The airlifted ballot boxes were destined for the most remote areas of Ulu Engkari, Ulu Lemanak, Nanga Aup and Nanga Kumpang, he told reporters.  

Many of the remote longhouses in the 1,341 sq km constituency can only be reached by river and the boat rides can take three to eight hours, depending on the water level and current.

EC staff will also use the man-made lake created by the Batang Ai hydro-electric project to get to their remote destinations.

“So far, the election staff have not faced any difficulty, and the remaining 15 ballot boxes will be transported by road to the nearby polling streams, including Sebangki, Batang Ai and Lubok Antu, on polling day tomorrow,” he said.

Takun said the counting of votes would begin at about 6pm tomorrow and the election result was expected to be announced by 8.30pm for the Iban-majority seat which has 8,006 voters, including 43 postal voters.

Twenty-five polling stations and 26 polling streams will be opened tomorrow for the by-election, which is a straight fight between Malcolm Mussen Lamoh of the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Jawah Gerang of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

The by-election is being held following the death of state assemblyperson Datuk Dublin Unting Ingkot, who was assistant minister of agriculture and assistant minister of sports, on 24 Feb. — Bernama


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