KUCHING, Nov 29 — Simanggang incumbent Datuk Francis Harden Hollis has confirmed he will be defending the seat he has represented since 1996 in the coming state election.

A statement issued by his office yesterday said Harden made the announcement when officiating an event organised by the Chinese community of Taman Pasir Panas in Sri Aman on Saturday.

“I want to take this opportunity to announce that I will defend Simanggang seat as a GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) candidate. I still have many development agenda which needs to be continued in Simanggang.

“Therefore, I need solid support from the Chinese community to realise the development agenda. I am optimistic the Chinese community, who are known to be forward thinking and emphasise economic development, will choose GPS which can bring more development and not be swayed by the opposition’s rethorics,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.

Harden also said the Chinese community in Simanggang are well-taken care of by the government, as their requests in terms of education and house of worship assistance are often fulfilled.

He also said several temples and religious bodies from the communities had recently received allocation from the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor).

Also present at the event, which was a ‘gotong royong’ to clean up the housing area, were Temenggong Kueh Aik Seng, Pemanca Lee Siang Hua and Penghulu Kang Tai Kong as well as Sri Aman District Council deputy chairman Andar Suntai.

Harden, who is Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) treasurer, has represented Simanggang for five consecutive terms since winning on a Barisan Nasional ticket in 1996.

In the 2016 state election, he won in a four-cornered fight with 1,388 vote-majority.

Simanggang is again expected to see a multi-cornered fight this time around.

Democratic Action Party (DAP) has confirmed its Sri Aman branch chief Leon Jimat Donald as its candidate, while Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) has also confirmed the candidacy of its deputy president Peli Aron.

Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) meanwhile has named former Agriculture Department assistant director Wilson Entabang as its candidate for the seat.

The field could become even more crowded if Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB) or its Gabungan Anak Sarawak (Gasak) partner Sarawak People’s Aspiration Party (Aspirasi) decides to join the fray. — Borneo Post