A town at the crossroads

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Malaysia’s 11th by election since March 2008 is only one day away. It comes on the heel of the important BN win in Hulu Selangor and before the much anticipated Sarawak state elections.

For the ruling BN, and Prime Minister Najib Razak in particular, this election provides an opportunity to convince voters nationally and his Umno party that he has a national mandate and can deliver the votes.

For the opposition Pakatan Rakyat, this contest provides a chance to stem the momentum of the BN in gaining support, further forge relations among the opposition component parties and even the score in the now increasingly important and contested marker of two-thirds in Parliament due to PKR defections.

NONE A strong victory for BN may even open the way for early national elections. No doubt this by-election has national importance. The town on the mighty Rajang River has come into the national spotlight, although few Malaysians have visited it.

Allow me to provide some context for two analyses that will follow. Sibu is a wonderful charming town that has historically played a crucial role in the development of Sarawak as the centre for the timber trade and a financial hub...

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