SANDAKAN: Security, tourism and the plight of locals dealing with an economic slowdown are among the key issues being highlighted by the by-election candidates here.
DAP candidate Vivian Wong said she would continue her late father Datuk Stephen Wong’s efforts to boost the east coast district’s economy through tourism.
Independent candidate Hamzah Abdullah, who is former Sabah PAS chief and former Sabah Amanah chairman, said he would raise security issues and the need to have direct international flights coming in via Sandakan, such as from China.
“I have been in politics for the past 37 years and I know about the difficulties in Sandakan,” said Hamzah, 65, who had contested seven times in various parliamentary and state seats in the past but did not win any.
“We need to have an opposition voice so that the government will listen. If you are an MP from the government, they will be afraid to speak up,” he said.
Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) candidate Linda Tsen also noted the need to highlight security issues, such as certain locations being used as transit points by militants.
She said there were also many challenges in Sandakan, including the slowdown in economy due to many previous projects being KIV (keep in view).
On her chances, the former two-term MP believed it would be a fight with DAP’s Wong as the three independents had little clout.
“I am thankful for getting support from the rest of the opposition parties,” said the 63-year-old, who got the backing of Umno, Usno, SAPP and Star.
Another independent, Sulaiman Abdul Samat, 36, a former administrative assistant, said he would focus on restructuring public administration, empowering community welfare and Islamic development.
The father of three brushed aside views that the contest would be between PBS and DAP, saying voters no longer just looked at the party.The third independent, Chia Siew Yung, would bank on his years of experience in corporate industry to give him the edge.
“I will focus on local, and bread and butter issues,” said the 45-year-old with a mechanical engineering background.