Final push to woo fence sitters

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 24 Sep 2020

The heat is on: Election commission banners are placed in strategic places to inform the public of the date and time of voting. — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

KOTA KINABALU: Leaders of Sabah’s political parties have doubled their efforts to turn the tide in their favour for Saturday’s state election amid obscure signals from the 1.1 million voters.

Though the tight multi-cornered contests across the state’s 73 seats have narrowed down to two or three main contenders in respective seats, the political pitch now is to push for the win by getting fence sitters to swing to their side.

Observers see not more than 35 seats having a clear winner 48 hours ahead of polls.

This forced leaders from the incumbent government, Warisan Plus, led by Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, and the main opposition Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS), spearheaded by Sabah Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin and Perikatan Nasional’s Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor, to continue to work hard amid claims by PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that he had enough MPs to take over the Federal Government.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is in town again for a hectic schedule that started in Luyang here last night before heading to Beluran and Sandakan today.

Tonight, he will attend a grand ceramah here by GRS, and tomorrow, he is expected to take his campaigning to interior Keningau.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong was in the east coast town of Sandakan to shore up support for the Barisan candidates in Karamunting and Elopura.

Shafie, who has been campaigning in Kinabatangan, Beluran and later Ranau, kept up the pace but gave no indication of any change in his attacks against his GRS opponents following the latest political move on the national front.

Giving a speech at the Telupid constituency yesterday, Shafie again underlined the importance of “unity” among Sabahans in the state’s bid to reclaim its rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

He said that only a united Sabah political stand would make it possible for the state to negotiate with the Federal Government for its rights and revenue over oil matters.

Shafie also noted the Perikatan Federal Government’s “razor-thin majority”.

“If MPs are jumping again, then the government will fall. They (Perikatan) don’t have enough (majority), ” he said in his speech after Anwar’s shock press conference in Kuala Lumpur.

The two main coalitions in the 16th Sabah election are Warisan Plus, whose components are Upko, PKR, DAP and Amanah; and GRS, which comprises Sabah Barisan (Umno, MCA and PBRS) as well as Sabah Perikatan (Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, Sabah STAR, SAPP and PAS) and its partner PBS.

“We are gaining momentum... tired but pressing on, ” Upko president Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau said as he campaigned for his candidates.

Bung Moktar dismissed the political drama purportedly happening in the federal capital, saying that his team was on target and not letting up on their campaigning.

Hajiji, on the ground working in Sulaman, where he is bidding for an eighth term as its assemblyman, is pitching for better federal-state ties should GRS rule Sabah.

“Warisan is failing in Sabah as its promises remain unfulfilled, ” he said.

Observers are seeing nearly half of the 447 candidates who filed nomination papers on Sept 12 for the total 73 seats seemingly having stood down with no campaigning or banners put up around their constituencies.

The key fights are between Warisan Plus and GRS with certain independents claiming to be endorsed by Perikatan likely to be still in the game as Sabah heads into the last stretch.

Usno’s de facto leader Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia in Pintasan and Parti Cinta Sabah president Datuk Seri Anifah Aman in Bongawan are also being watched closely as they are seen to have a fighting chance against the titans.

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