KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s urban voters are caught in a bind with a “reshaped” Opposition, according to political observers.
They said the situation is made worse for the Opposition with many DAP and PKR elected representatives having ditched their parties since the last general election.
They said this scenario could favour Sabah Barisan Nasional, which lost urban seats in Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau to the Opposition.
Part of the new alignment is due to the emergence of Parti Warisan Sabah, which has yet to make a clear deal with DAP and PKR.
Warisan also has the four-party coalition Gabungan Sabah to contend with.
DAP and PKR have suffered in terms of public confidence with the defections.
DAP and PKR made inroads in Sabah in the 2013 general election, winning 11 of the 60 state seats (seven PKR and four DAP) and took three of the 25 parliamentary seats (two DAP and one PKR).
However, DAP is now left with one assemblyman, while PKR is left with two state representatives and lost its sole MP due to a spate of defections to Barisan and other parties.
Political researcher Dr Lee Kuok Tiung said fence-sitters who decided to back the Opposition last time could be in a tough spot.
He said many DAP and PKR supporters, mainly in Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan, were uncomfortable with the turn of events.
Dr Lee, a senior lecturer in the School of Sciences at Universiti Malaysia Sabah, said many urban voters were unsure if the Opposition candidates who won would stick to their parties after the polls.
“It’s whether these leaders are using the party ticket just to gain a seat – only to jump after the general election.
“It is clear that DAP has to fight very hard to regain the people’s trust,” he said, recalling that DAP had given assurance in the last polls that their candidates would not jump ship.
On the move by DAP and PKR to allow Warisan, which is led by former Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, to take 60% of the seat share, Dr Lee said the pact had yet to materialise.
“Time is running out and GE14 is near, so if this pact is going to work, Pakatan Harapan and Warisan would need to do it now,” he added.