One of the longest elections in the world is now taking place in the Malaysian state of Sarawak.
One of the longest elections in the world is now taking place in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Polling has to be spread over one month because of the vastness of the country with its remote villages tucked away in the jungle-covered mountains or hundreds of miles up one of its many rivers.
Helicopters have to be used to get the voting teams to some areas, especially around the border of Indonesian Borneo. One village visited by the helicopter had only thirteen voters. It would have taken three days to reach on foot.
Sarawak has been waiting ever since 1963 -- the year it joined the Malaysian Federation -- for this election of Federal and State representatives. It was finally fixed for May last year, only to be postponed by the racial disturbances in Kuala Lumpur. Thirteen months later, on June 6, voting finally got under way.
As well as helicopters, the voting teams are also using longboats to reach the river villages where the indigenous Ibans and Land Dyaks live. However, they are outnumbered by the Chinese, who form one third of Sarawak's population, and Malays.
Traditional distrust between the races had led the authorities to ban campaigning and taking security measures, but so far all has been peaceful in the election of what Kuala Lumpur hopes will be a genuinely multi-racial government.
Polling ends on July 4.