SANDAKAN: A push to ensure a big win for DAP 72 hours ahead of Saturday’s polling began with the Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal asking Sandakan voters to end Pakatan Harapan’s by-election defeats.
Shafie, the Parti Warisan Sabah president, joined the campaign trail of DAP’s Vivian Wong and DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang at the busy market in town here yesterday.
They drew crowds and chatted with shoppers and traders during the hour-long visit in the east coast town.
Shafie said Sandakan voters were not easily bought off and they did not buy stories spun by the opposition in other by-elections in Peninsular Malaysia.
“We can prove that Sabah is different. I’m confident that Sandakan would create a historic feat for us in terms of by-elections,” he told reporters after the walkabout before heading to chair the state Cabinet meeting being held for the first time outside Kota Kinabalu.
Shafie’s Warisan is leading the state coalition with DAP, PKR and Upko. They are facing the first by-election since GE14 after Pakatan took power from the Sabah Barisan Nasional government that had ruled the state for 24 years.
Sandakan is the home base of Tan Sri Musa Aman, who was ousted after being the longest serving chief minister for 15 years.
He has been absent for nearly a year from his Sungai Sibuga state seat which is part of the Sandakan municipality. He has also not made a presence in the by-election.
For Shafie and Warisan, they need to work to deliver the Muslim votes in the traditional Umno strongholds.
The state government is trying to make inroads into the splintered Umno bastion during the by-election, where the seat has about 18,000 Muslim bumiputra voters and 20,000 Chinese voters, while the rest are made up of mainly Kadazandusun and others.
The opposition is also working hard to ensure PBS candidate Datuk Seri Linda Tsen gets the support from the Muslim bumiputra voters.
Umno top guns, including deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan are arriving to shore up support for PBS and Tsen.
Others helping to push the PBS campaign are Sabah STAR president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, Sabah Progressive Party president Datuk Yong Teck Lee, former Sabah Umno leaders Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia and Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.
Political observers noted that Wong remained in the pole position in the five-cornered race. But any swing in Muslim votes for PBS could turn the tide of the by-election.