KOTA KINABALU, Nov 12 — A week after the 15th general election's (GE15) nomination day, two party leaders — Sabah Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin and Parti Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal have both done impressive miles crisscrossing the state in a bid to help their candidates campaign.
Both leaders have strong grassroots and are slated to retain their seats in Kinabatangan and Semporna respectively, allowing them to feel comfortable enough to "hand over” campaigning duties to their community leaders while they assist their party's other candidates.
Bung’s mode of transport has been the more efficient choice where he uses helicopters which can take him to more places in a short time, and be where he needs to be to rally troops or put out political fires.
This week, he has stuck to the west coast districts and interior districts of Tenom, to Keningau and Sepanggar in a day, flown from Pensiangan to Tenom before driving to Putatan, and on Thursday, flown to Sipitang, to Beaufort and then Kimanis. On Friday, he landed in Kota Belud to much fanfare to help Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan campaign.
Warisan President Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal giving a speech while campaigning in Sandakan November 8, 2022. — Bernama pic
Shafie has relied on land transport to go around, even months prior to the elections. On nomination day he started in Semporna, then moved to Kalabakan and Tawau, Kinabatangan, Batu Sapi and Sandakan before moving to the interiors of Beluran and Ranau.
On Thursday he was in Sipitang, Beaufort and Kimanis before ending in Tuaran. On Friday he traveled from Putatan to Sepanggar before ending up in Penampang at night. He was in Labuan last night and flew to KL today via a Malaysia Airlines scheduled flight.
In contrast, the other six party's state chairmen or presidents contesting this election have mostly stuck to their constituencies and districts to campaign for themselves in the face of some tough challenges.
Upko party president Datuk Seri Madius Tangau is defending his seat against favourite Parti Bersatu Sabah information chief Datuk Joniston Bangkuai and Warisan’s Joanna Sue Henley Rampas. Bangkuai had beaten Tangau in the 2020 state elections when the two were vying for the Kiulu seat.
They are in a six-cornered fight with Pejuang’s Mominin Norbinsha and two independents — Noortaip Suhaili and Bobby Lewat.
Pakatan Harapan Sabah chairman Datuk Christina Liew is also facing a tough fight in Tawau without former allies Warisan. She is defending the Tawau seat and is facing two young new faces — Warisan’s KC Chen, PBS’s Lo Su Fui, plus Pejuang’s Herman Andus, and two independents.
PBS president Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili is in the fight of his career for the Kota Marudu seat for the fifth term. His toughest contender is Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Malaysia (PKDM) deputy president Datuk Wetrom Bahanda, a former Umno and Bersatu strongman, who left the GRS coalition to take him on.
Muda’s lone candidate — Shahrizal Denci is also in the five-corner fray, with Warisan’s Datuk Jilid Kuminding, Parti Pejuang’s Mohd Azmi Zulkifklee, and indie Norman Tulang.
Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan is also up against tough competition from PKDM’s Datuk Jake Nointin, who Kitingan only narrowly beat in 2018 by a mere 45 votes. Nointin was then in Warisan.
They are in a four-cornered fight.
PKR chief Sangkar Rasam is also in the fray against Pensiangan incumbent, Datuk Arthur Kurup who is Parti Bersatu Sabah deputy president.
Pejuang state chairman Nicholas Sylvester is also fighting to get the party known in Sabah in the Papar seat. Here the fight is mainly between Warisan incumbent Ahmad Hassan and GRS’s Datuk Armizan Ali.
Other state party leaders who are not contesting - GRS chairman Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor, DAP state chairman Datuk Frankie Poon and Sabah Progressive Party president Datuk Yong Teck Lee have all been spotted helping other candidates' campaigns.
PKDM president Datuk Peter Anthony, who was prevented from contesting in Tenom due to his court conviction, has also rallied quickly to help campaign for the other candidates and even recruited Tenom independent candidate Riduan Rubin.
This time around, the national coalitions seem to not be getting a lot of help from their national party leaders, who are also busy campaigning in their own areas.
Former Prime Minister and Pejuang president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, PH president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke, Yeo Bee Yin and Teresa Kok have flown to Sabah to help the campaign. DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang was also here on nomination day.