KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Barisan Nasional election chief Bung Moktar Radin made a whistle-stop tour to four state constituencies deep in the interior yesterday to drum up support for the coalition.
With seats on the Sabah west coast anybody’s game, and many areas on the east coast seen as Warisan Plus strongholds, Bung was trying to cover as many areas as he could by visiting Bongawan, Kemabong, Sook and Tulid.
The Kinabatangan MP, who will be contesting the new Lamag state seat in his parliamentary constituency, travelled by helicopter to the remote locations, beginning at 8.30am in Bongawan, which BN is trying to wrest back from Warisan.
Bung ensured his speeches were brief, impactful and to the point before rushing over to his waiting chopper to fly to the next location.
He rallied supporters to vote for the BN candidates in their areas and deny Warisan Plus the chance to be returned as the state government, before completing his itinerary at about 7pm.
Several selected media representatives accompanied Bung as he criss-crossed the far-flung locations spread over three parliamentary constituencies.
In Bongawan, former district officer Awg Syairin Awg Bakar is attempting to reclaim the seat for BN against Warisan’s Daud Yusof, who won in the 14th general election after beating Mohamad Alamin, the Kimanis MP, among others.
The Kemabong seat, which lies within the Tenom parliamentary constituency, was won by BN through Jamawi Jaafar, who had defected to Warisan but switched allegiance back to BN just before the dissolution of the state assembly on July 30.
Sabah Umno information chief and former Tenom MP Raime Unggi is contesting in Kemabong, which sits in the Murut heartland, after being dropped in the last general election.
He is standing against five others, including Lucas Umbul of Upko, which is part of Warisan Plus, and former Umno assemblyman Rubin Balang, who is an influential figure despite contesting as an independent.
While BN’s competition in Bongawan and Kemabong is directly against Warisan and others, the same cannot be said for Tulid and Sook, where the coalition will face their own allies such as PBS and STAR of Perikatan Nasional.
In Sook, which lies within the Pensiangan parliamentary area, BN’s Bonepes Been is locked in a five-way fight, including against incumbent Ellron Angin of STAR, while party colleague Matusin Bowie will face off against PBS’ Suman Yasambun and STAR’s Flovia Ng, apart from Warisan’s Mudi Dubing, in a seven-sided battle in Tulid.
Ellron had won the seat under PBRS, which is a BN component, in GE14. He joined STAR in December 2018.
Meanwhile, Kemabong resident Juanis Tingkalu, 36, said he wanted BN to take back all the seats.
“Jamawi shifted allegiance to Warisan last time but he is now back with us, so that is okay. I have to say I don’t see any progress in Kemabong in the 26 months under Warisan rule.
“We need mostly basic infrastructure like clean water, roads, and health and educational facilities,” he said.
But another resident said BN could face hurdles in achieving their ambitions as Warisan had done some good work, particularly in distributing native land titles to villagers.
“This land title issue is a hot subject among the Kadazan Dusun Murut (KDM) community.
With Warisan having given out such titles to people in Nabawan, it could benefit the party in terms of votes in the interior seats,” said the villager in Sook.
Other residents said the “candidate factor” matters more in the interior seats, with the party they are representing coming in second.
One resident said voters will probably not support a candidate who is not originally from the area.
“For instance, in Sook, all the candidates are from there and it is up to them to convince the people they can solve their problems,” he said.
Bung is expected to visit the KDM areas in Ranau and Kudat tomorrow.
Click here for the latest on the Sabah polls