SABAH POLLS | Early Sunday morning, there was a bustle of activity at a large open area divided by several roads in the middle of Tandek town in Kota Marudu, with a mixture of many colourful large umbrellas and blue and white tents set up in the area.
People were hawking their produce and wares under the shade. Some even set up mats on the sidewalk, where they can take refuge from the sun under the trees' shade, displaying their goods for sale. Many more are walking around the area, perusing the makeshift stalls.
All sorts of goods can be found, ranging from fruits, vegetables, plants, live farm animals and food. The smell of freshly cooked food and the sound of endless chattering permeated the morning air.
This is the weekly "tamu" in Tandek, which is basically like a vast open-air market where farmers and artisans gather to sell their goods. Similar weekly tamu can be found throughout various districts in Sabah.
The tamu is an old tradition dating back from colonial times, where locals used to barter and exchange goods. Some tamu still practice that system until today.
With such a huge weekly gathering of the locals from the surrounding areas in Tandek, it is no surprise that today's tamu saw many candidates coming to campaign.
During Malaysiakini's visit to the tamu today, at least five candidates or their party machinery were seen campaigning among the locals gathered there as well as at nearby shops.
Among those seen at the tamu include Upko’s Tandek candidate Padis Majingkin (above, left), Perikatan Nasional’s Bandau candidate Wetrom Bahanda (below, centre) and Parti Cinta Sabah’s (PCS) Bandau candidate Yangi Webley Disim.
Campaign workers for Usno's Bandau candidate Azahari Amit and Parti Bersatu Sabah's (PBS) Tandek candidate Hendrus Anding were also seen campaigning at the tamu.
In Sabah, where the ties among local villagers remain strong, it is a common sight to see the candidates greeting the locals at the tamu as if they are old friends.
The candidates and their staff often stop, striking up short conversations with many of the locals.
They also hand out flyers and leaflets, urging the people to vote for their candidates. Some also include the candidates' manifesto.
The locals appear to greet all the candidates and machinery with similar courtesy, only showing some gusto when it is clear they recognise their friends among the candidates or the campaign staff.
From Malaysiakini's conversations with a few of the locals at the tamu, it seems they come from all over Kota Marudu.
Although the tamu is held in Tandek, some of them are voters in Matunggong, which is about an hour's drive away. Many more are from Bandau, a new state seat, carved out nearby Tandek.
Both Tandek and Bandau will see a six-cornered fight while Matunggong has eight candidates vying for the seat.
As the candidates and their party machinery sweep through the tamu and the surrounding areas, the locals remain more interested in their main goal of the day - hawking their wares in this long-standing traditional market of Sabah.