The selection of Jamilah Anu as Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for the Tanjong Datu state seat by-election was not aimed at garnering sympathy votes, said Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein.
He said the late Sarawak chief minister Adenan Satem's widow was the best candidate for the by-election based on her qualifications and good grassroots' acceptance, which were important factors to ensure victory for BN.
"This is not an issue of sympathy votes because since a long time ago, she (Jamilah) has been close to the people there and had moved along with the late Adenan's election machinery including during the last Sarawak state election.
"Actually, what I had been most worried about was what if she (Jamilah) was unwilling (to be a candidate) but perhaps after some considerations, she agreed. To me, she is the most qualified candidate (for the by-election)."
Hishammuddin said this when met by reporters at the wedding of state Cooperatives, Entrepreneurship and Consumerism Committee chairperson Shahiruddin Ab Moin's son, Muhammad Safwan and his bride Fairuzatul Amila Suhani, at Simpang Kallang, Raub, today.
Hishammuddin, who is also Defence Minister, hit out at the claims by certain quarters that choosing the widows of incumbents had become a new trend.
"We chose a candidate who could be accepted by the voters there. This is not a matter at the national level and surely the people there (in Tanjong Datu) know better who should be fielded as candidate," he said.
He also reminded the BN machinery not to take things easy in the by-election although they had won big in the state election last May.
"I hope they will come out in big numbers... work as hard as they can. I myself will go there to ensure the momentum is kept and to continue with the message delivered in the last state election," he said.
The Tanjong Datu by-election on Feb 18 will see a three-cornered contest involving Jamilah, Sarawak Reform Party (Star) candidate Johnny Aput and Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru's (PBDS) Rapelson Richard Hamit.
The by-election is held following Adenan's death from heart complications on Jan 11.
In the last state election, Adenan, 72, garnered 6,360 votes against only 468 votes obtained by PKR candidate, Jazolkipli Numan.