KOTA KINABALU: The Kadazandusun heartland of Penampang will see multi-cornered fights in the constituency, but the political opponents have vowed to keep it "friendly" among themselves.
All eyes will be on the showdown between incumbent Penampang MP Darell Leiking from Parti Warisan Sabah and Barisan Nasional newcomer Ceasar Mandela Malakun.
Leiking will be defending his Penampang parliamentary seat, which he won on a PKR ticket in GE13, after defeating then United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) president Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.
Upko candidate Mandela, 27, and Leiking, 44 - both from Kampung Limbanak, Penampang - said the rivalry between them would remain civil and free of animosity.
"He is my brother," said Mandela, of his cousin Leiking.
Calling Penampang a "rock" where everyone is related, Leiking said the political rivalry between the opponents would not sever their family ties.
"In politics, of course, we oppose each other. But the family remains intact. That has never been an issue.
"What bonds us at the end of the day, is that we are together in celebration and sadness," he said.
The cousins will face stiff competition from former Kapayan assemblyman Dr Edwin Bosi, who had left DAP to join Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri, and Sabah STAR's Cleftus Stephen Spine for the Penampang parliamentary seat.
Cleftus, a businessman, is also related to Mandela and Leiking.
Sabah MCA deputy chairman Datuk Francis Goh will contest the Kapayan state seat against DAP's Jannie Lasimbang and STAR's Chong Pit Fah.
First-time candidate Goh said he trusts that voters in his constituency will exercise wisdom in choosing the best candidate to continue serving them.
"I had worked so hard for the past four years, unlike a certain politician from the Opposition who upon winning the election, can't be found when he was most needed by his constituents," he said in an apparent reference to Bosi.
Moyog will witness a four-cornered fight between Upko's Datuk Donald Peter Mojuntin, Warisan's Jennifer Lasimbang, Parti Cinta Sabah's Dennis Tunding and STAR's Aloysius Danim.
Parti Kebangsaan Sabah candidates Levired Misih @ Willybroad Missi (Penampang), Karasipin Julian Dending (Moyog) and Lee Fui Min (Kapayan) did not show up at the nomination centre.
Penampang – which includes the Moyog and Kapayan state seats – has some 53,000 voters comprising mainly Kadazandusun, with a substantial number of Chinese voters on the Kapayan side.