SANDAKAN: Despite the morning downpour, supporters from both sides of the political divide, including those of independent candidates, turned up in droves as they await the opening of the Sandakan by-election nomination centre on Saturday (April 27).
Supporters from Pakatan Harapan, including DAP, Sabah Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, and Parti Warisan Sabah had gathered at several coffee shops as they took cover from the heavy downpour.
DAP's hopeful Vivian Wong, who will be defending her late father Datuk Stephen Wong Tien Fatt's seat, was also seen mingling and taking pictures with supporters, who were carrying party flags.
At the same time, supporters from Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) were also seen gathering on the main road, which is at least 1km away from Pakatan supporters.
They were gathering in support of PBS hopeful Datuk Linda Tsen Thau Lin.
Meanwhile, supporters of 46-year-old independent candidate Chia Siew Yung, all donned in black, also gathered near PBS supporters.
So far, Tsen, Wong and Chia have entered the nomination centre.
Security was tight at the nomination centre in SMK Tiong Hua, where a huge presence of police officers and Esscom officers, who were carrying assault rifles, were seen guarding the area.
The Sandakan by-election is expected to see a multi-cornered fight, as several independent candidates are expected to compete against Tsen, a former two-term Batu Sapi MP and Wong, a political newbie.
Candidates for the May 11 polls is expected to be announced later at 10am on Saturday (April 27).
Sandakan, with about 40,000 voters, comprised 51% Chinese and 45% Muslim bumiputras, including Bajaus, Suluks and Sungei.
The rest of the electorate made up of Kadazandusun communities and others.
The by-election was triggered after two-term incumbent Stephen died of a heart attack following a hike on March 28.
In GE14, Stephen won the seat with a 10,098-vote majority.