KOTA KINABALU: A week to election day on Sept 26 in Sabah and voters are spoilt for choice, given the promises and potential laid out so far.
From the get-go on nomination day on Sept 12, the 447 candidates for the 73 constituencies took to the streets, the villages, islands and the jungles, spreading word of their plans.
This also includes their campaign on the Internet, social media and the very least, via text messaging.
At least, that is what the majority of aspirants appears to have been doing, despite claims some of them were fielded as vote “spoilers”.
Convincing the public to cast their votes is an issue in itself.
The week that follows will see aspirants putting in more legwork and despite limitations due to strict health protocols in place because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many are determined to get their messages out.
Being the early favourite in the race, the Parti Warisan Sabah-Pakatan Harapan-United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Warisan-PH-Upko) coalition moved into motion early, with leader Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal touring the state.
Warisan-Plus is rallying the masses with a theme of unity, an emphasis on protecting Sabah’s interest and that it will defend the rights of the people.
The Warisan president has dazzled with his oratory skills, humility and backed by a campaign team that has been sticking to the same template that help the coalition in the 2018 election.
The party failed to win the last round, but had a bit of help with Upko ditching Barisan Nasional (BN) then, allowing them to take over the state within days.
This round, however, the major difference in the Warisan-Plus campaign is that they were in government going into the polls and showed their shortcomings in administering Sabah.
WWF-Malaysia Sabah conservation head Dr Robecca Jumin said there were concerns for several specific ongoing projects, such as the Tanjung Aru Eco Development, Papar Dam project, Kalabakan deforestation and Balambangan silica mining.
This was based on a survey carried out on 1,239 respondents last month by WWF to see if the mandate from the people would be affected by issues related to the environment.
Opposing parties had also raised issues such as illegal immigrants, political appointment of officers in government-linked agencies and departments, as well as the reversed decision on slot machines.
There was also an apparent worry about the smaller representation of its PH partner
, Parti Keadilan Rakyat, but an insider said Sabah chief Datuk Christina Liew had her tough stance “melted” by advice from party advisory council chairman Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to stay with the coalition.
GABUNGAN RAKYAT SABAH
Though not formalised, the coalition is a promise that will be put in place if Perikatan Nasional-BN-Parti Bersatu Sabah are given the mandate in the polls.
With federal backing led by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his charges in the cabinet, as well as other “like-minded” leaders in the fray, the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) agenda is well delivered across the state.
“The reason the copy of the document was given to me as the prime minister is because some of the pledges involve the federal government, while some others, the state government.
“This is something that we need to do because the majority of Sabah people are still thirsty for progress and development,” Muhyiddin said when launching GRS.
Muhyiddin also dangled the offer of making Sabah Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) chief Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor the chief minister if the results favour GRS.
PARTI CINTA SABAH
Making inroads in their extensive campaign, contesting all constituencies, is Parti Cinta Sabah led by former foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.
Though almost similar in its campaign in giving priority to Sabah issues, the party claims to be different than Warisan-Plus as it has no links with parties from Peninsular Malaysia.
Anifah said the party charts its own course and does not serve any parties from the peninsula.
LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY
At the start of the campaign, the younger generation asked about the orange flag with the torch emblem.
Over the next few days, however, the legacy of its honorary life president Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat served as a reminder of the things that can be achieved by Sabah.
They, too, have been producing vibes in certain areas in the state, divided into the Muslim Bumiputera areas in the west coast, the east coast and north, Kadazandusun, Chinese and mixed urban seats.
A few independent candidates have made heads turn on social media, although how they are on the ground remains uncertain.
So far, some have banded together, such as the Independent Candidates Alliance led by former Sabah Progressive Party leader Datuk Melanie Chia.
Then there are also rogues who are contesting after being ditched by their parties, such as Datuk Aminah Ambrose of Bersatu and Datuk Jake Nointin of Warisan, among others.
By : Roy Goh – NST