The chances for PR to win and deny BN’s two-thirds majority in Sabah are high if it allows state-based opposition parties to contest one-to-one against the ruling party in all the 60 state constituencies.
Arnold Puyok, The Malaysian Insider
Sabah politics has never failed to generate the interest of political pundits. Not only does Sabah have a lot of political mavericks known for their political stunts, Sabah politics is also as unpredictable as the weather. The withdrawal of two former BN strongmen, Wilfred Bumburing and Lajim Ukin, to align with PR has heightened the race to win public office in Sabah. BN is banking on its track record while PR is riding on the promise to form a transparent, democratic and people-friendly government.
The state-based opposition parties SAPP and STAR are also promising a better and more reliable government. But different from PR, they rely heavily on the “Borneo Agenda” to rally support. The PR-friendly groups such as APS (Angkatan Perubahan Sabah) led by Wilfred is tasked to go into the Kadazandusun areas to weaken STAR while Lajim’s PPPS (Pakatan Perubahan Sabah) is responsible for consolidating the Muslim support in PR.
All the state-based opposition parties resort to sloganeering to woo new supporters. The very mention of “inikalilah” (this is the time) reminds one of STAR with its no-holds-barred approach in championing Sabah’s rights and autonomy. APS’s campaign motto is “ubah” (change), almost similar to PPPS’s “tukar”. Can PR and state-based opposition parties provide a strong challenge to BN that has more than 50 years of experience in electoral politics?
In the effort the deny BN any chance of winning, PR is determined to have a one-to-one fight with the ruling party. However, such a plan seems remote judging from the way PR deals with the issue of seat allocation. The chances for PR to win and deny BN’s two-thirds majority in Sabah are high if it allows state-based opposition parties to contest one-to-one against the ruling party in all the 60 state constituencies.
As PR’s main aim is to win Putrajaya, it will have to win a certain number of parliamentary seats in Sabah even though the task of winning has become difficult than ever. The SAPP’s strongholds are mainly in Chinese-majority areas. The state-based opposition party to watch is STAR, whose support is growing particularly in the Kadazandusun areas even though there has been rumour that the party has lost support following the allegation that it is funded by UMNO to split the support for PR.
STAR’s “Borneo Tea Parties” seem to bear fruits at least among young professionals, especially teachers. If STAR’s facebook account is used to measure the party’s popularity, the Sarawak-based party should be commended for its ability in attracting new members in such a short time.
SAPP had said that it managed to strike a deal with STAR. But Jeffrey Kitingan’s statement in the media that he is determined to “do it alone” squashed SAPP’s attempt at finding an amicable solution to end the squabble over seat allocation. It is possible for all the state opposition-based parties to contest against each other and thus give BN the advantage to return to power.