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Thursday, July 19, 2001

Keadilan choice surprises many (Sabah)

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Keadilan Nasional's choice of Christina Liew as the party's bet for the Likas by-election surprised many, including herself.

"As I walked (to the nomination centre on Thursday), I could see the surprise on the people's faces," she said.

The surprise, Liew said, was because of the misconception in Sabah that Keadilan is a Malay and peninsula-based party.

"All of a sudden you see a candidate who is not only Chinese but a woman," she added.

Likas is the 49-year-old lawyer's second foray in an election. In 1986, she stood as a Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) candidate for Barisan Nasional in the Tawau parliamentary seat and lost.

After nine years in PBS, she left the party which served as her training ground in Sabah politics.

"I learnt about the real world of politics. I learnt that ideology is one thing and practicality another, and how to strike a balance between the two can be a delicate task," she said.

Liew joined MCA in 1995 and became its Sabah Wanita chief until she resigned in January 1999. Two months ago, she joined Keadilan because she was upset by the detention of Keadilan activists under the ISA.

Unlike her maiden contest in 1986, Liew said she was more mature this time.

"In my first contest, I was very young and helpless. The whole Tawau PBS division was conducting the election while I was there only as a candidate representing the party," she said.

"This time around, I know exactly what I am going after. Armed with a little bit of political experience, I know how to relate to all the events coming up."

Liew reads a prepared text during her ceramah but is articulate during press conferences. The reason, she said, was she did not want to make any mistake when giving speeches.

Asked during a press conference how well she knew the Likas voters, she said: "I have lived in Kota Kinabalu for the last 10 years. Kota Kinabalu is a five-minute drive from Likas, what do you expect that I do not know?"

Liew, who was from Tawau, but born overseas, added: "Yes, maybe the kampung issues as I am a new candidate in the area. But I am moving in (the kampungs) and I will know their worries."

Asked about a smear campaign against her personal life, she said: "That was what I expected, being a woman politician. I have found that is one handicap a woman politician has to face."

Liew, her party president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Sabah Keadilan head Datin Saidatul Badru Tun Said Keruak will be hoping that women will make a difference on polling day.

They are expecting that their gender, which makes up 45% of Likas voters, to understand their plight in a political world dominated by men.

Source: The Star

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