SANDAKAN: A widow will take on the youngest daughter of the late Sandakan MP in the by-election here, as both candidates go all out to capitalise on sympathy votes to capture the coveted seat.
Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) has named Datuk Linda Tsen as its torchbearer against DAP’s Vivian Wong.
Tsen is a former two-term Batu Sapi MP, who was fielded to replace her husband after he died in a road accident in 2010.
During the 14th General Election in May last year, she lost the seat to Datuk Liew Vui Keong of Parti Warisan Sabah in a four-cornered fight.
Earlier, DAP had announced Vivian, 30, the daughter of the late Sabah DAP stalwart’s Datuk Stephen Wong, in the party’s bid to retain the seat.
The 63-year-old Tsen was chosen as other opposition parties had stepped aside to allow for a clash between local-based PBS and DAP to battle it out in the east coast Sabah town.
The candidacy of Tsen was widely seen as a move to counter the sympathy sentiments due to the death of the incumbent MP on March 28.
PBS president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, who spoke to reporters after the announcement, played down the women and sympathy factor in choosing their candidate, saying it was Tsen’s political experience that stood out in the selection.
“We know the DAP is going to field a family member. So we want a leader with experience and she is the best,” he said.
Ongkili also made clear the party’s war cry, saying that they would be pushing for Sabah’s rights, as well as bread and butter issues, which the Pakatan Harapan government failed to address and resolve.
“People continue to express their concerns on security and developments in Sandakan, how their livelihood is affected, rise in prices of goods and services as well as the drastic drop in commodity prices,” he said.
“The people of Sandakan has a political tradition of being open, independent and anti-establishment, and we salute you for that. In the past, they always wanted a leader of proven qualities to be their voice in Parliament. Such a task is not for a rookie politician,” he said.
“We need a proven and seasoned MP to do the job. Tsen is in the best position to be the flag bearer and the voice of Sandakan.”
Separately, Tsen when asked how she would be able to counter the sympathy factor in her campaign, only replied: “I wish her (Vivian) all the best”.
She said the most important thing was for the party to work hard and win the hearts and minds of the voters.
But the by-election will not be a straight fight between DAP and PBS as several independents have voiced their intention to join in the fray, making it a crowded and tight race.Among them are Sabah Amanah chairman Hamzah Abdullah, activist Jufazli Shi Ahmad, businessman Chia Siew Yung and former political worker Sulaiman Abdul Samat.
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.
In GE14, Stephen won the seat with a 10,098-vote majority.