Kota Kinabalu, Friday – Unlike in past few by-elections held in other parts of the country earlier, including one in Kimanis, Sabah, the state election to be held tomorrow is anybody’s game.

In the by-elections, Barisan Nasional were the clear winners with a thumping majority every time. This time, however, it can be anybody’s game.

According to observers, the nature of the State election this time is like the State vs Federal as incumbent Parti Warisan Sabah and its allies, led by caretaker Chief Minister Shafie Apdal, appear to have a one-on-one against their closest their closest rivals Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) — a loose coalition comprising Perikatan Nasional (PN), Barisan Nasional (BN) and various state-based parties.

Zainal Epi of Malay Mail Online wrote that both sides appear confident of their chances, but at the same time, remain cautious due to the fluid situation that might yet yield an unexpected twist of fate tomorrow.

Warisan was in the lead during the early part of the campaign, but suffered a setback when its candidate and former federal minister Mohamaddin Ketapi scored an own goal following much-criticised remarks over the 2013 Lahad Datu incident.

He is said to have alienated not only the state’s 16,000-plus Armed Forces and police personnel, but also the Kadazan-Dusun community who have long harboured suspicions of the Murut-Suluk community.

GRS were of course quick to capitalise on the situation in an effort to push ahead in the race.

Whether this will have any bearing on tomorrow’s election remains to be seen, however, largely due to the lukewarm reception that greeted the advent of state elections this time.

Sabah voters are usually a passionate and vocal bunch, but their distinct lack of excitement this time around means they have been hard to read, and therefore made it almost impossible for parties to judge where they stand.

The concerning COVID-19 situation notwithstanding, people have simply not come out in force for ceramah, nor has there been much coffee shop chatter.

While approximately 1.1 million Sabahans are expected to cast their votes to determine their future tomorrow, there is a strong possibility that the voter turnout may be reduced due to the fear of COVID-19 infection as compared to previous state elections.

Nevertheless, what will the outcome be and what are the plans that party leaders might have should the result be too close to call would be interesting to see.

After all, Sabah has always been known to have created so many uncertainties regarding the swearing-in of the Chief Ministers in the past. Even this snap state election was called when matters regarding the rightful Chief Minister was brought to the courts, and only a state election could end the imbroglio. Perhaps. – New Malaysia Herald

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