Reports By MUGUNTAN VANAR, STEPHANIE LEE and KRISTY INUS
BEAUFORT: Fifteen kilometres apart, two national leaders were giving two different narratives on the country’s financial situation as the campaign for Kimanis heats up with five days to go before the by-election.
Both leaders – Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Najib Razak – were pitching for their respective candidates while extolling each other’s strengths and shortcomings amid a barrage of attacks on each other’s past and present misdeeds.
While Pakatan Harapan harped on the economic mismanagement by Barisan Nasional, the former ruling coalition bashed Pakatan’s inability to run the country.
Muhyiddin, who is Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president, slammed the misdeeds of the Barisan government that left Malaysia’s financial situation in tatters.He told the people at Bongawan Plaza that Pakatan had to grapple with huge financial debts left by the Barisan government.
He said they also had to tackle serious corruption issues including a new twist to a murder case involving a Mongolian woman.
Muhyiddin, who is also the Home Minister, made it clear that Bersatu and Pakatan had no problems working with Parti Warisan Sabah and the state was in the good hands of Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal as the Chief Minister.
In Membakut, Najib told a Barisan crowd in Kampung Pimping that there was no mismanagement by his administration and the debts were only at a manageable RM660bil when Barisan lost the government in 2018.
He said Pakatan was misleading the people with claims that they inherited debts of up to RM1 trillion.
He went on to question the academic qualification of the Pakatan ministers and their failure to look after the people’s interest as he told the crowd that Kimanis should be a mini-referendum for the Pakatan government which he believes would not survive one term.
Najib and senior Umno leaders, including former vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, were in town to shore up support for Barisan’s Datuk Mohamad Alamin in a tightly contested by-election as the mainly Brunei Malay and Kadazandusun voters keep their thoughts to themselves.
Warisan is also pushing the ground with Shafie reaching out to the multi-ethnic communities on his ‘Sabah for Sabahan’ agenda to
win local support as he explained progress on getting back the lost rights under the Malaysia Agreement.
The Warisan machinery, which started on the defensive foot after nomination day, is picking up and hitting hard on Barisan ground
following a series of defections over the last four days, including a faction of 164 Umno members to Warisan in Lumat yesterday.
“Warisan is getting worried. They are going for campaign workers. They buy off a few of our campaigners and announce big numbers of members leaving. It is all a bluff. They are getting desperate, ” Sabah Umno chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin said, accusing Warisan of playing money politics.
He said Barisan was still in a close race for the seat and there was a growing feeling among the people
to teach Warisan a lesson for all unkept promises.
As respective party machinery make their move on the ground, both candidates Warisan’s Datuk Karim Bujang and Mohamad are on a house to house visit in their bid to win the hearts and minds of the 29,664 voters.
Campaign directors are also trying to locate some 5,000 to 6,000 outstation voters living in the neighbouring Beaufort and Papar towns as well as in Labuan and Kota Kinabalu.
“We are locating them and making efforts to get them to come back and vote, ” said Warisan campaign director Datuk Jaujan Sambakong, who is also the Deputy Chief Minister.
“We are looking good. I believe we are beginning to take a slim lead, ” he claimed.
Karim said they were using the ‘Cuti-Cuti Balik Kampung’ motto to lure voters outside Kimanis to return not just to cast votes, but also as a time to visit relatives back home.