SEMPORNA, Sept 10 — The announcement of candidates for the upcoming Sabah state election by several major parties today has seen Warisan Plus adopting the strategy of fielding incumbents in its strongholds in the East Coast of Sabah.
Apparently encouraged by its clean sweep of seats in the Semporna parliamentary constituency in the 14th general election (GE14), Warisan has decided to let incumbents defend three seats — Semporna Wanita Warisan head Manis Muka Mohd Darah (Bugaya), Parti Warisan Sabah vice-president Datuk Dr Jaujan Sambakong (Sulabayan) and Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (Senallang).
Mohd Shafie is expected to be challenged by Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) Norazman Utoh Nain, who is his nephew and vice-head of the Bersatu Semporna division.
In GE14, Senallang saw a straight fight between Mohd Shafie and his cousin, Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Datuk Seri Nasir Tun Sakaran, with the former winning.
Contacted by Bernama, Norazman, 45, said despite being a newcomer, he would not be intimidated by Mohd Shafie, who was together with him in UMNO before.
“My father and Mohd Shafie are cousins; I call him uncle.
“I’m in no position to brag, but I’m confident that InsyAllah, hard work will produce the desired result,” he said.
Apart from Semporna, Warisan is also retaining its incumbent state assemblymen in the Lahad Datu parliamentary constituency — Dumi Pg Masdal (Silam), Norazlinah Arif (Kunak) and Warisan Supreme Council member Assafal P Alian (Tungku).
Another interesting development is that Lahad Datu Member of Parliament and former federal Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohammadin Ketapi has been named as the Warisan candidate for Segama, one of the 13 new state seats in Sabah.
Sabah political analyst Dr Syahruddin Awg Ahmad said strong grassroots support and family ties were the two main factors that prompted Warisan to retain old and tested faces.
“Voter sentiment (in these areas) is quite different as they are more comfortable with having people they know as elected representatives. They will decide based on candidates, not parties.
“Besides, state Warisan leaders also prefer candidates who have worked with them because their established network would facilitate work in the future,” he added.
Commenting on Barisan Nasional’s move to field many new faces, Dr Syahruddin said it was in response to calls from grassroots who wanted reforms and also an attempt to give a new lease of life to the party.
“It is in line with the autonomy given by central BN,” said Dr Syahruddin, a senior lecturer at the Humanities, Arts and Heritage Faculty of Universiti Malaysia Sabah.
Warisan will also be contesting in all three state seats under the Tawau parliamentary constituency and four seats in the Kalabakan parliamentary constituency.
It will also be fielding candidates who lost in GE14, like Hassan A Gani Pg Amir (Sebatik) and Andi Rus Diana Andi Paladjareng (Balung), apart from retaining Kalabakan chief Sariffudin Hata as its candidate for the Merotai seat.