The election fever is getting hotter in the interior with various speculations coming up, especially those concerning candidates and seat allocation. Political observers here described the coming general election will be a tough fight not only between the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in the Interior areas hut also among the BN components lobbying for seats. The Keningau parliamentary constituency will be seeing a fight between the Kitingan brothers who are going all out to gain the support and win the people’s heart in the March 8 election. Pairin who is also Deputy Chief Minister and Rural Development Minister, will defend the seat he won in the 1992 general election. Reliable sources from both BN and PKR indicated that the incumbent PBS president will also stand as a BN candidate in the Tambunan state constituency. Pairin will be facing Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) candidate Moses Iking in Tambunan while in Keningau, he will meet his younger brother Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan who is also the PKR vice president. Jeffrey who is also the Keningau PKR chief, was reported to be contesting in Bingkor. It was also reported that interior DAP coordinating chief Paul Kodou will contest in the Keningau parliamentary seat while his deputy chief Lawrence will stand in Bingkor. Meanwhile, the BN is speculated to retain the incumbent candidates for Bingkor, Liawan, Sook, Nabawan and Pensiangan parliamentary areas. Based on the quota and 2004 formula, Justin Guka will be maintained in Bingkor, Datuk Haji Sairin Haji Karno in Liawan, Tan Sri Joseph Kurup in Sook, Datuk Bobbey Suan in Nabawan and Datuk Bernard S Maraat in Pensiangan. However, talks on candidates for several areas such as Bingkor, Sook and Pensiangan are still going on where several BN components are still lobbying for the Bingkor seat. Among them are Anuar Datuk Ayub from Umno, Haji Suib Sadiman and Datuk John Datuk Angian (UPKO) and Jailine Lian (PBRS). In Sook, it was reported that PBRS Deputy President Datuk Elron Angin is keen to contest while in Pensiangan, two factions one belonging to PBRS President Tan Sri Joseph Kurup and the other belonging to PBRS Secretary General and incumbent Bernard S Maraat, are eyeing the constituency. Justin or anybody who is selected as BN candidate will be facing Jeffrey in Bingkor; Sairin will take on Jius Awang or Dr Nicholas of PKR; Kurup or Elron will be meeting former teacher Paul Gitang or Rayner Francis Udong of PKR; Datuk Bobbey Suan will be challenged by Gabriel Uwing from PKR and in Pensiangan, either Bernard or Kurup will face Danny Andipai from PKR. In the Melalap constituency, PBS Secretary General and incumbent Datuk Radin Malleh (BN) will face PKR candidate Jimmy Jawatah. For the Tenom parliamentary area, incumbent Raimi Unggi or new face Jamawi Jaafar (BN) will take on Richard Joe Jimmy (PKR) and in Kemabong, either incumbent Datuk Rubin Balang, Esar Andamas or new newcomer Matusin Balang will take on Peter Lonok from PKR. However, the official lists of candidates either from BN or PKR have still not been announced yet. The BN and PKR leaderships are expected to make last minute changes and with a few more days to nomination day, anything can happen. It was also reported that several local opposition parties, namely, Setia, Bersekutu, Pasok and independents are also trying their luck in this election. Meanwhile, several political observers here described this year’s election will not be an easy passage for the BN because many issues remain to be solved. Among them are the Sabah Amanah Saham (SAS) investment, land applications, illegal immigrants, MyKad and 1MM 13, unfulfilled development promises, poverty and hike of oil and goods prices. In the Keningau town, the failure of the local authority to overcome the traders’ problem will also decide the votes for the BN. The political observers also expect PKR to win the Keningau, Bingkor, Sook and Pensiangan seats if the BN fields the wrong candidates in the areas. While the BN could win Tambunan, Liawan and Nabawan, but the majority is expected to be reduced.