SANDAKAN: DAP's Vivian Wong has emerged victorious in the Sandakan by-election, picking up a 11,521-majority win in taking the seat that her father held until his passing in March.
In the process, she helped to snap the run of three consecutive by-election losses suffered by Pakatan Harapan in Cameron Highlands, Semenyih and Rantau.
Wong polled 16,012 votes, while PBS's Datuk Linda Tsen got 4,491 votes.
"I just tried my best. So, I’m very surprised and thankful for the support of Sandakan voters," Wong said.
"I want to thank my father’s voters for being able to trust in his daughter, that I can do as good a job as my father,” she added.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng also said Wong's victory was beyond expectations.
"We thought we could only win with a 4,000 to 5,000 majority. Who knew we would win with an even bigger majority," he said.
Lim also took the opportunity to thank Parti Warisan Sabah for making inroads in Muslim-majority areas such as Kampung Sim Sim and Pulau Berhala.
In a statement, PBS congratulated Vivian for retaining the DAP seat.
“The voters have chosen and we respect their decision.
“At the outset, PBS recognised itself as the political underdog here, given the electoral result for the constituency in GE14,” said party president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.
“PBS put up a good fight, but in the end, we could not overcome the might we were facing," he added.
The three independent candidates Hamzah Abdullah, Chia Siew Yung and Sulaiman Abdul Samat managed only to pick up 788, 176 and 126 votes respectively.
The Election Commission also announced that voter turnout stood at 54.4% as at 5pm, short of its target of 70%. The voter turnout in GE14 was 72.1%.
Wong is the youngest daughter of the late Stephen Wong, whose death on March 28 triggered the by-election.
The elder Wong was Sandakan MP in 2013 after beating incumbent Datuk Liew Vui Keong of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) with a 1,088 majority in the 13th General Election in 2013.
In GE14, he kept his seat after beating newcomer Lim Ming Hoo of LDP with a 10,098 majority and served as a government MP after Barisan Nasional lost the election.
His daughter was considered the favourite going into the contest, which saw a five-cornered fight involving Parti Bersatu Sabah's (PBS) Datuk Linda Tsen and independents Hamzah Abdullah, Sulaiman Abdul Samat and Chia Siew Yung.
A total of 39,684 constituents were eligible to cast their votes today for the by-election, from a total 40,131 voters registered under the Sandakan parliamentary constituency. The remainder include 177 postal votes and 270 early voters.