Crowded field expected for Sabah polls

(FMT) – Multi-cornered contests are shaping up in virtually all 73 seats as parties finalise their candidates for the Sept 26 state polls.

Going by announcements by contesting parties, political observers here reckon that three- to five- cornered fights would be the norm in almost all seats.

They said seats such as Api Api here would see at least eight to nine candidates in the running and a similar number was expected in Tanjong Kapor in the northernmost Kudat district.

The observers said apart from Warisan Plus and the Barisan Nasional-Perikatan Nasional alliance, they were anticipating other parties contesting all 73 seats. That includes Gagasan Sabah.

Smaller parties such as PCS have indicated that they would be fielding candidates in up to 60 seats. LDP, Usno as well as Parti Harapan are looking to contest 40 seats.

The observers said they were anticipating that as many as two or three independent candidates could likely be contesting in each of the 73 seats as well.

Though Warisan Plus, BN-PN and PCS were scheduled to announce their lists of candidates tomorrow, sources in these groupings said negotiations and “horse trading” were still ongoing this evening.

Political analyst Lee Kuok Tiung of Universiti Malaysia Sabah said the smaller parties and independent candidates would likely face difficulty in gaining traction among Sabah voters.

“These independents don’t have much time to introduce and establish themselves among voters,” he said.

“Voters here tend to go for known parties or names or political figures,” he said, adding that Warisan Plus could stand to benefit if votes were “split” in the multi-cornered contests.

In this regard, he said PCS president Anifah Aman, and others like Pandikar Amin Mula (who heads Usno) and Liew Yun Fah (of Parti Harapan), could make an impact.