Intense encounters shaping up in many areas

At the starting line: Chew filling up forms at the Kapayan nomination centre at Sabah Native Court accompanied by a few of his supporters

KOTA KINABALU: Nominations for the state polls went smoothly in the designated centres across the state, but it was a different story as far as the candidates’ list was concerned. The state election will see multi-cornered fights, with intense battles shaping up in many areas.

A close fight is expected as history has shown that Sabah is no stranger to such multi-cornered clashes.

The Bengkoka seat in Kudat has the most number of contenders, with 11.

Earlier, a message went viral on WhatsApp suggesting that 16 people were vying for the Tandek seat in Kota Marudu.

As it turned out, it will be a six-cornered battle with incumbent assemblyman Datuk Anita Baranting defending the seat as an Independent.

Clashes are also expected in Kapayan, Liawan, Kadamaian and Karamunting, among others, as parties friendly to Perikatan Nasional such as MCA, PBS, Sabah STAR and Umno face each other.

Yesterday, candidates streamed in as early as 8am to file their nomination papers. With the ongoing recovery movement control order, they were allowed to be accompanied only by their proposers and limited supporters.

All were told to wait until the doors opened at 9am.

Among the early birds was Independent candidate Chew Shung Seng who is contesting in Kapayan.

He said he did not want to be late “for my first foray into politics”.

“I was afraid of being caught in a traffic jam although the nomination centre is just minutes away from where I live, ” he said.

Another early-riser was Parti Bersatu Sabah’s (PBS) candidate for Moyog, John Chryso Masabal, who at the Sabah Cultural Centre in Penampang before others.

The absence of a parade of supporters chanting and waving banners was a change for Parti Warisan Sabah’s Datuk Darell Leiking, who is fighting for the Moyog seat.

“We are used to a big entourage and we will need to adapt to this quieter way of campaigning.

“What’s more important is that voters come out and exercise their rights in accordance with the standard operating procedure to prevent the spread of Covid-19, ” said Leiking.

But at several other nomination centres, supporters of various parties ignored the ruling for “no parade or gathering”.

Eventually, they were told to disperse by policemen.

Election Commission chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh said it did not receive any complaint on the matter.

“Yes, there might be videos and photos being circulated but we did not get any official report from anyone. So, we cannot take any action, ” he said.

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