Smaller parties yet to make an impact, focus remains on major coalitions in Sabah

Warisan Plus and GRS will have more chances to win the seats and dominate this election, says analyst


SMALLER state-based parties and independent candidates could be the wild cards in the upcoming Sabah state election, but the real fight is still between Parti Warisan Sabah (including its allies Warisan Plus) and the federal-backed Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition.

Political analyst associate professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said smaller parties and independent candidates will affect voting, but so far there is no indication that they would win any seats, including Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) led by the former Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

PCS is contesting in all 73 state seats.

“So far, Warisan Plus and GRS will have more chances to win the seats and dominate this election.

“We still cannot predict how significant the small parties would play their roles. Even like PCS, they are still new and have no prominent leaders representing them in this election,” Awang said, adding that the dynamics could change towards the polling date.

According to the Election Commission (EC), 447 candidates have registered to contest this election. Of the 73 seats, 26 of them will see six-cornered fights.

The most contested seat would be in N.02 Bengkoka with 11 candidates, followed by Inanam with 10 from various parties and coalitions.

In total, 391 candidates are representing 14 different political banners, while the remaining 56 are contesting as independent candidates.

Prof Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia said the Sabah 16th state election genuinely shows a multi-parties election, welcoming as a true democracy in the state.

“However, it is truly a fight between two coalitions: GRS and Warisan Plus. It is too early to call which party is going to win because both coalitions have strengths and weaknesses.

“Definitely Sabahans will choose the party that can benefit them in state development, political stability and people welfare for next five years,” he said.

Another analyst, Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said it is hard to predict who is getting the advantage in Sabah’s 16th election, due to divisive stand between contesting parties.

On Wednesday, GRS launched its manifesto which included the commitment to sort out the long standing issue over the Malaysian Agreement 1963 (MA63), including the plan to set up a state-level legislative committee for the agreement.

Although Warisan Plus does not have a formal manifesto for this election, it had earlier stated its vision and mission over the next five years.

Warisan said the state will establish an agency to solve MA63, adding that the Warisan’s state administration had previously resolved 17 of the total 21 articles in the agreement.

“The manifesto will lead to a balanced fight between both coalitions as it will become a fundamental material to gain support,” Awang said.

“It’s going to be an interesting state election and the Opposition is going to give a good fight against the current state leadership (Warisan).

“As for now, it is still a tough fight and we shall see a clash of personalities,” Sivamurugan said.

The polling date is on Sept 26 involving 1.12 million voters with EC predicting about 70% turnout amid the Covid-19 pandemic.