PH and BN go head-to-head in Kimanis

The by-election is the 10th held since the GE14 and the 5th involving a parliamentary district


PAKATAN Harapan’s (PH) ally Parti Warisan Sabah will go head-to-head with Barisan Nasional (BN) in what is expected to be a closely fought by-election set for Jan 18.

Warisan nominated its division chief Datuk Karim Bujang (picture; right), 67, as a contender for the Kimanis federal seat, while BN will be represented by former assemblyman Datuk Mohamad Alamin (left), 48. Early polls will be carried out on Jan 14, while the polling date is on Jan 18.

The by-election, which is the first to be held in the new year, is also the 10th held since the 14th General Election (GE14) and the fifth involving a parliamentary district.

The Kimanis seat fell vacant after the Kota Kinabalu Election Court ruled to annul Datuk Seri Anifah Aman’s win in May following the discovery of additional ballot papers deemed to have affected the results of the election.

Anifah, who has held the seat for three terms since 2014, retained his constituency in GE14 with a slim 156-vote margin, defeating Karim and Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah candidate Jaafar Ismail.

However, Karim challenged the victory at the election court, citing discrepancies, which he won.

Anifah later sought a review to the ruling from the Federal Court, but his appeal was dismissed.

Kimanis has 29,664 registered voters comprised mostly of Muslim Bumiputera. However, 41% of the electorates are non-Muslim Bumiputera and 6% are Chinese, making it a diverse constituency.

Polling experts see the by-election as a gauge of public support for Warisan, which leads the state government in Sabah, and for PH as the federal government.

Issues relating to the Malaysia Agreement 1963, oil royalties and cost of living are expected to take centre stage on the campaign trail.

Victory to either side will unlikely change the status quo in the Dewan Rakyat, but will offer a significant morale boost to the winning side. Last year, PH won only one of the last five by-elections.

Overall, PH has won five of the nine by-elections held since GE14, namely in Sg Kandis, Balakong, Seri Setia, Port Dickson and Sandakan.

On federal seats alone, PH won two of the last four parliamentary by-elections but failed to retain its seat in Tanjung Piai in what many credited to a swing in Chinese support.

The Malaysian Reserve looks back at the last four federal seat by-elections and how they unfolded.

Port Dickson

The Port Dickson by-election was the first federal contest held since GE14.

The seat became vacant after incumbent Danyal Balagopal Abdullah resigned to pave way for PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to return as MP.

This came after Anwar received a royal pardon, which restored his eligibility to contest in elections. The by-election was held on Oct 13, 2018.

It was a seven-way fight between Anwar, PAS candidate Mohd Nazari Mokhtar and five independents including former Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad and Saiful Bukhari Azlan, Anwar’s former personal aide and accuser in his second sodomy trial.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad offered his support by going to Port Dickson during the campaign period, where he shared the same stage with Anwar for the first time in 20 years.

The Port Dickson constituency had 75,770 registered voters, of which 43% were Malays, 33% Chinese and 22% Indian. Anwar won the by-election with a higher majority, returning to Parliament for the first time in three years.

Cameron Highlands

The Cameron Highlands by-election was held on Jan 26 last year after the seat became vacant, following the Election Court declaring the seat null and void over corrupt practices committed in GE14.

The court found the incumbent guilty of bribing the Orang Asli community prior to the election.

The constituency comprised 32,009 registered voters, of which 33.5% were Malays, 29.48% (Chinese), 14.91% (Indian) and 21.56% were Orang Asli.

BN’s Ramli Mohd Nor won the by-election in a four-cornered fight with PH candidate Manogaran Marimuthu and independents Sallehudin Ab Talib and Wong Seng Yee. Ramli became the first indigenous Orang Asli candidate elected into the Dewan Rakyat.


Following the death of incumbent Wong Tien Fatt on March 28, 2019, due to a heart attack, the Election Commission called for the Sandakan by-election to be held on May 11.

Wong was a two-term MP for Sandakan since 2013 and was the Sabah state party chairman of DAP.

Vivan Wong, the daughter of the late MP, was declared the candidate for the alliance of PH, Warisan and UPKO for the by-election.

Other nominees included Parti Bersatu Sabah’s Linda Tsen Thau Lin, and independents Hamzah Abdullah, Chia Siew Yung and Sulaiman Abdul Samat.

Sandakan’s electoral roll stood at 40,131 voters with 49% Chinese, 44% Muslim Bumiputera, 6% non-Muslim Bumiputera and 1% Indian. Vivian won the by-election win an 11,521-majority and total turnout at 54.44%.

Tanjung Piai

The Tanjung Piai by-election was held on Nov 16 last year following the death of incumbent Datuk Mohamed Farid Md Rafik, who was also the deputy minister in the PM’s Department for National Unity and Social Wellbeing.

The constituency had a total of 52,986 voters, made up of 57% Malays, 42% Chinese and 1% Indian.

The by-election was the first election in Malaysia in which 18-year-olds can contest in an election after an amendment was made to the Constitution. However, they were not allowed to vote as the legislation allowing the move had not been gazetted.

BN’s Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng won the by-election with a landslide majority of 15,086 votes to return as MP for Tanjung Piai. Wee garnered 25,466 votes, while his closest rival, PH’s Karmine Sardini, secured 10,380 votes in the six-cornered contest.

The four remaining candidates received less than 3,000 votes combined. Dr Mahathir, in a statement after the by-election, said he foresaw the loss, but expected the margin to be smaller at only 2,000 votes.