PBB will field a local Melanau, who is a Christian, in the Balingian by-election to honour a long term “gentlemen’s agreement” that has been established with the community since 1963.

However, the identity of the candidate will only be revealed in Mukah this Saturday by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, said Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Satem at PBB headquarters here yesterday.

Adenan, who is also PBB president, had earlier chaired a meeting to discuss on the potential candidate and preparations for the by-election, which was called following the resignation of its assemblyman Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud on Feb 28 to become the Yang di-Pertua Negeri on March 1.

“Yes, we have decided on the candidate, but I cannot reveal the name until the 15th (of March) when the deputy prime minister will come. All I can say for the moment is that he is a Melanau, he’s a Christian, he’s a local-born, and is well known to the local people.

“I cannot reveal the age, but we will give the privilege to the deputy prime minister to make the announcement.”

As Adenan kept the age of candidate under wraps, the candidate, according to the grapevine, could be Mukah-born engineer Adrian Langi Dorhat Alphonsus, Dalat district officer Yussibnosh Balo, former Tourism Ministry Permanent Secretary Akit Sebli, government officer Dr Anthony Valentine Laiseh or businessman Paul Druce.

The fielding of a Christian candidate fulfils a “gentlemen’s agreement” set with the community since independence. The agreement between Christian Melanaus with their Muslim counterpart was meant to ensure that the various ethnic communities are well represented in the government.

It was agreed that one of the three elected representatives in Mukah would be a Christian from the local community.

The state seat of Balingian comes under the Mukah parliamentary constituency, which also houses Dalat. Mukah MP Dato Sri Dr Muhammad Leo Michael Toyad embraced Islam several years ago, while Dalat assemblywoman Datuk Fatimah Abdullah is a Muslim.

In the 2011 state election, Taib won Balingian seat with a 5,154 vote-majority in a three-cornered fight.

The Election Commission has set March 17 for nomination and March 29 for polling in the event of a contest.