SANDAKAN: Pakatan Harapan reigned supreme as DAP’s Vivian Wong won by a landslide in the Sandakan parliamentary by-election, crushing Parti Bersatu Sabah’s Datuk Linda Tsen.
The 30-year-old political novice, who will be the youngest woman to enter Parliament, retained the seat won by her father the late Datuk Stephen Wong Tien Fatt with an increased majority of 11,521 votes.
She obtained 16,012 votes against main challenger Tsen’s 4,491.
The three independents – Hamzah Abdullah (788), Chia Siew Ying (176) and Sulaiman Abdul Samat (126) – lost their RM10,000 deposits. Voter turnout was a low 54%.
The official results were announced at 9pm.
Wong gained widespread support across the communal board – Chinese and Muslim bumiputra – to better her father’s GE14 majority of 10,098 votes.
The by-election campaign started slowly with little interest among voters before turning heated with the scramble for the Muslim bumiputra votes.
The DAP worked closely with Chief Minister and Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who played a crucial role to turn the tide of the ethnic Bajau-Suluk communities.
Sabah Umno, backed by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, failed to draw any significant support.
Tsen failed to capture the 8,000-odd traditional Barisan Nasional and Umno support base which shifted its allegiance.
Wong, a graduate in mass communications who served as public relations officer to her father, said the result came as both a shock and surprise to her.
“I just tried my best. I’m very surprised and thankful for the support of Sandakan voters. I want to thank my father’s voters for placing their trust in his daughter, that I can do as good a job as he did,” she added.
Her mother, Datin Florence Chong, said the victory was the perfect Mothers Day gift for her.
She said she had been grieving since the death of her husband due to a heart attack on March 28.
“But with such excellent results, it has helped heal my broken heart,” Chong said as she hugged her daughter.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng described Wong’s victory as beyond expectation.
“We thought we could only win with a 4,000 to 5,000 majority. We never imagined we would win with an even bigger majority,” he said.
The Finance Minister commended Parti Warisan Sabah for making inroads in Muslim-majority areas such as Kampung Sim Sim and Pulau Berhala.
Mohd Shafie said the bigger win was a clear indication that the people, including the Muslim bumiputra, were supporting the Warisan-led state government with DAP, PKR and Upko.
“This is a victory of the people as well as an endorsement of the Warisan-led government,” he declared.
Sabah Pakatan Harapan chairman Datuk Christina Liew congratulated and welcomed Wong “on board”.
“This is the beginning of an arduous journey where you have to move on with inherent duties and responsibilities as the MP representing Sandakan.
“There are many things to do for the socio-economic upliftment of Sandakan, but you will not be alone,” Liew, who is Sabah Deputy Chief Minister, said in a statement.
PBS secretary-general Datuk Jahid Jahim said the party accepted the results and wishes of the Sandakan electorate.
“The by-election gave us an opportunity to highlight the various shortcomings of the ruling government and we hope they will address the issues,” he said.