The Election Commission (EC) announced that the Balingian by-election will be held on March 29, six days after the Kajang by-election.

The nomination date has been scheduled for March 17, with early voting set to be on March 25, said EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof today in an announcement.

This would give each candidate a 12-day campaigning period. It is also expected to cost the EC RM910,213.

Abdul Aziz also said that EC will be appointing local independent observers, especially from Sarawak, to ensure a smooth by-election in Balingian.

“To those who claim to be any kind of observers or monitoring body it will be the same, if you are not appointed by the EC, you will not be able to enter the prohibited areas,” he told a press conference in the EC
headquarters in Putrajaya.

The N.51 seat was vacated when former Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, who was the state assemblyman for the seat, stepped down on Feb 28.

Taib, the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) president, appointed the party’s vice-president Tan Sri Adenan Satem as the new chief minister.

Taib is now Sarawak’s new governor of the state, replacing Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng.

Balingian was last reported to have 11,792 voters, with 8,093 (69 %) of the total voters being Malays and Melanaus, 2,188 (19%) Iban voters, 1,510 (12 %) Chinese voters, and only one voter in the ‘others’ category.

During the 10th state polls in April 2011, Taib won with a majority of 5,154 votes, defeating independent candidate Datuk Salleh Jafaruddin and Suriati Abdullah from PKR.

Salleh garnered 1,056 votes while Suriati garnered 871 votes.