SANDAKAN: A picture of DAP candidate Vivian Wong cleaning up a Muslim cemetery during her campaign in the Sandakan by-election has drawn flak on social media.
Some called it a political gimmick, alleging that it was not genuine and an attempt to appeal to the Muslim bumiputra community.
Independent candidate and former Parti Amanah Negara leader Hamzah Abdullah, who will contest the May 11 polls, questioned Vivian's intentions, pointing out that religious matters should not be part of an election campaign.
Vivian's campaign manager Ginger Phoong, however, defended her actions, labelling it as a normal practice and something her late father Datuk Stephen Wong, a two-term Sandakan MP, used to undertake.
"We never thought that it would go viral.
"But I think it is fair to say that it is nothing special in Sandakan and Sabah – nothing religious nor racial," he said.
"Before this, it was never an issue because it never drew any publicity, we did it humbly with good intentions.
"I regret to see this being politicised," said Phoong, who is also Luyang assemblyman.
The Sandakan polls was called after Stephen passed away due to a heart attack on March 28.
The May 11 polls is set to see a five-cornered fight between Vivian, Parti Bersatu Sabah's Datuk Linda Tsen and three independent candidates.