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Yes Sabah is BN's fix-deposit, but not Sarawak and Peninsular

By Eleazar Zechariah
PRE-ELECTION ANALYSIS, KOTA KINABALU: If general election is held in July or August this year as many speculated, the opposition parties belief that they have a chance in Sabah, is nothing more than merely day-dreaming. Sabah, with 25 Parliamentary seats, again is set to be the ever safe "fix-deposit" for Barisan Nasional. This is a fact.

Currently there are only three opposition MPs from Sabah in the persons of DAP's Hiew King Chew who represents the state capital and SAPP's Chua Soon Bui of Tawau, and Eric Majimbun of Sepanggar. Sandakan, the only third Chinese seat and opposition-material MP seat in Sabah is currently held by LDP president V. K Liew.

And of the 60 state constituencies, only three are opposition held - Likas and Luyang in the west cost by SAPP's Liew Teck Chan and Melanie Chia respectively, while Sri Tanjung in the east-coast by DAP's current Sabah state chief, Jimmy Wong.

The town is abuzz with talks that SAPP and DAP have been cracking their heads over how to work out an impossible arrangement on Sabah's only three MP seats and eight state seats with a clear Chinese majority.

Observers said, SAPP president Yong Teck Lee, is trying his best to win a bargain with DAP. He is bent on seeking a winning working formulae with DAP, realising the fact that failure to avoid a DAP-SAPP clash will only benefit BN candidates.

Insiders in the know told FMT, that both SAPP and DAP are also working on a possible cooperation in areas where the Kadazandusun voters are the majority but with a substantial Chinese voters, big enough to put a fair fight against the mighty BN under its chief, cash-rich Musa Aman.

Such seats are Sepanggar (currently held by SAPP deputy president Majimbun) and Penampang (currently held by Bernard Dompok) which are considered by analysts to have a very steady substantial opposition voters.

Penampang is beng eyed again by Dr Edwin Bosi, a PKR candidate in 2008 and made a very good showing, but now had joined DAP.

There also have been talk that Dompok who left Penampang for Ranau in 2004, is said contemplating to leave Penampang yet again for a safer seat, maybe in a seat-swap with UMNO or with his own UPKO colleagues.

However right now there is no clear sign yet that the UPKO president is putting special interest in any other seat besides Penampang.

While Dompok has also been quietly talking about early retirement for a more personally rewarding role, Yong on the other side is said eager to make it to Parliament after his dismal performance in Batu Sapi by-election late last year.  

Yong's option would be either in Batu Sapi again, Sepanggar, Kota Kinabalu, Tawau or even Penampang. He may take over Tawau from Chua, or even Sepanggar from Majimbun. Even if Hiew is willing to move from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan (where in 2008 DAP's Shanty Chong almost won), in Kota Kinabalu, Yong would have difficulty winning over a DAP potential candidate Dr Felix Chong, and not forgeting PKR own Christina Liew.

It definitely would not be a smooth-sailing for the opposition parties in Sabah, even on day one of Parliament dissolution, they would be in disarray over seat allocation. The threat of opposition split is real. The fact is BN is already winning, at least in Sabah.

Receding clout of Jeffrey Kitingan benefits BN
Compounding the opposition headache would be the unclear stand of Jeffrey Kitingan, who had repeatedly said would not align himself to any political parties but would campaign for change anyway via his NGO, United Borneo Front (UBF).

Even if Kitingan's clout had been on a steady decline recently, he still commands pockets of support across Sabah, good enough to spoil either way.

One observer said Kitingan non-aligning himself to parties right now would most likely change as general election draws closer. "Jeffrey is a man of intrigue... He may say one thing now, and do other thing later. In the process he is making parties from both divide more vulnerable and fragile," a seasoned observer who only wants to be known as Simon.

Jeffrey may want to stand again in the impending general election. No one beleives he is not interested to speak up for Sabah in Parliament. "Perhaps standing as independent candidate is okay with him, but what about his lieutenants who are already out of PKR like him? What about those still in PKR?," Simon reasoned.

Already there is a growing dissilusionment within the former PKR vice president's ranks on his political strategy or approaches. Even his UBF has hit a hard road, having lost the trust of his two founders - lawyer Nilakrishna James and economist Zainal Ajamain. Quite a number of Kitingan's so-called admirers too are already in SAPP.

Alone and increasingly isolated, Jeffrey would not pose a serious danger to BN chances in Sabah, not even in Kadazandusun-majority areas. At best he would spoil the opposition votes, and this, Yong and PKR leaders are wary not to fall victims of circumstance.

For BN, it is all the better that Jeffrey would not work with other opposition parties. It is a bonus for BN if Jeffrey supports BN, which is out of the question right now as the man himself had said that UMNO and BN are his enemies. Whichever way, BN sows all the benefits for SAPP-DAP-PKR failure to work out a compromise.

Under the present scenario, the best hope for Pakatan Rakyat in Sabah are only three MP seats. Even this may go to only one seat if a split is unavoidable. PR's best bet is in neighbouring Sarawak, where it may get between 10 to 14 parliamentary seats !     

1 comment:

  1. I am not too worried about the resolve of true Sabahans to vote for change through the local parties. Sabahans did it at least on a couple of times before. My real concern is the free hands cheating of UMNO in the election. They will do ANYTHING at all (rules from the books are but all thrown into the septic tanks!!) and at ALL COSTS to win the elections. And not a soul for any Sabahan to turn to for help. Only God can help but He may feel that this is not the time yet to intervene. He may do so "someday" but no one knows when that "someday" will come. It may not come at all.


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