Tricky for BN in Kota Belud

Almost half of the Kota Belud parliamentary constituency in Sabah are Dusun Christians but none of the political parties saw it fit to field a Christian candidate.

(FTM) – KOTA BELUD: It will be an uphill battle for Sabah Barisan Nasional secretary Abdul Rahman Dahlan to retain his Kota Belud parliamentary seat in the 13th general election.

Abdul Rahman is in a five-cornered fight in Kota Belud, the birthplace of Umno in Sabah.

In the 2008 general election, he won the seat with a 3,020-vote majority garnering 17,842 votes against his sole opponent, then Saidil Simoi of PKR. Saidil chalked up a respectable 14,822 votes.

But this time, it will be tricky for Abdul Rahman, even though the Sabah Umno state deputy chief Salleh Said Keruak has expressed confidence of BN retaining the parliamentary seat and sweeping the three state seats within the Kota Belud constituency.

The three seats are Tempasuk, Kadamaian and Usukan. Salleh is contesting in Usukan

Abdul Rahman’s predicament began when he had to fend off a strong opposition from his own Umno party via Lamsil Hamidsor. Lamsil is contesting as an Independent against party’s wishes. He has since been expelled.

Many here believe that Lamsil is a plant sponsored by dissenting voices within Kota Belud Umno who are silently campaigning to deny Abdul Rahman a second consecutive win.

In 2008, Abdul Rahman was “plucked” from adjacent Tuaran to replace Salleh as MP, much to the angst of the locals. He won nevertheless but with a much reduced majority from previous BN’s victories.

Abdul Rahman, an Umno loyalist, is also finding it very hard, if not impossible, to neutralise the surging support for PKR young candidate Munirah Majilis, who incidentally is Salleh’s second cousin.

On top of that, is the ground reality in Kota Belud, where the Dusun community makes up the bulk of the voters.

Muslim candidates in Christian turf

Their votes are expected to be split between PKR and another surging opposition party, the State Reform Party (STAR) through its candidate Jalumin Bayogoh.

Added to this is the sole Christian Independent candidate in the fray, journalist activist Kanul Gindol, who is perceived to be the under-dog in the five-cornered tussle.

Then there is the possible protest votes from the Iranun communities in Tempasuk who were denied a chance for any seat.

Iranun leader Pandikar Amin Mulia had been lobbying hard for the community to be given either the Tempasuk seat or parliamentary seats.

Many among the Iranuns are now supporting fellow Awang Laiman Ikin, the PAS candidate for Tempasuk.

For Parliament, their votes could go either to Munirah or Lamsil, something that Abdul Rahman is already aware of.

Meanwhile, the entry of Gindol, 47, in the five-cornered tussle could pose grim possibilities for PKR and STAR alongside the BN.

Local observers said Gindol’s participation may now swing the votes from the Christians who comprise 50% of the electorate.

This poses a threat to attempts by all three parties contesting to get the already-agitated Christian voters in the area.