Heat’s on as campaign enters last lap

  • Nation
  • Monday, 06 May 2019

KOTA KINABALU: As Pakatan Ha­r­a­pan continues to up the ante in the last lap of campaigning, the Oppo­sition front claims that they are in a good position to win Sandakan, which is a DAP stronghold.

Though political analysts and observers are saying that DAP’s Vivian Wong (pic) has an advantage, Pakatan campaigners are not resting on their laurels.

They could sense some discontentment among the 39,349 registered voters in this second largest town on the east coast of the state, raising some concerns, particularly over the margin of victory.

After a lacklustre first week of campaigning, DAP had stepped on the gas, bringing in top guns, including Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, to convince voters to back Wong.

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also showed up in a bid to shore up support against the main contender – Parti Bersatu Sabah’s (PBS) Datuk Linda Tsen.

The low turnout at a ceramah among the 51% Chinese voters was one of the top concerns for DAP, with polling just days away.

“I believe the DAP camp is already feeling the heat, so the opposition should give their all in the last leg,” MCA central committee member Datuk Chew Kok Woh, who is Batu Sapi MCA chairman, said as he followed the PBS campaign.

He said voters had yet to make a decision on who should be given the mandate, saying that “this is a good sign”.

Local observers said many Chin­ese voters were not “too excited” over the by-election as it was hardly a year after the 14th General Election.

In GE14, Wong’s father Datuk Stephen Wong won with an over 10,000-vote majority.

A low turnout, especially from the Chinese, could be costly for DAP as it might reduce their majority.

But the party has got an ace in Parti Warisan Sabah president and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who had been using his charm and influence to win over Muslim voters of the mainly ethnic Bajau.

Observers said Shafie was the key to push up the numbers among the Muslim community, comprising 45% of the electorate, which is crucial for a convincing win.

Helping PBS to counter Shafie’s influence in Muslim areas is former Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia.

He met voters in Pulau Berhala, comprising many fishing villages, to shore up support for Tsen.

The 63-year-old PBS candidate is backed by Barisan Nasional, Sabah Progressive Party, Usno Baru, Sabah STAR and other smaller opposition parties.

It was one of the rare occasion where all of them stood together to show a united front against the might of Pakatan.

Also seen in favour of PBS was the forceful removal of a billboard, purportedly smearing the image of Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, by the authorities.

The timing to charge Sabah Umno chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin and his wife for alleged corruption could also tilt some support towards Tsen.

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