Campaign for the Sabah state election ended midnight last night. Any campaigning will only be online and last minute whispering reminders.
Provision of transport as in Peninsular Malaysia is not widely practised in Sabah as it is physically limiting and political parties merely give supporters money to arrange their own transport. That money should be considered corruption as it is usually more than required. There could be bidding war between competing parties.
In Sabah political circle, they are quite upfront and it means the practise is a norm and widespread, particularly in the rural parts of Sabah. The size of the so-called transport money and being the last to pay before polling could determine the outcome.
Information received this afternoon Warisan has been aggressively dishing out transport money to add to their widespread and large posters, banners and flags. It is to compensate their overwhelming disadvantaged position in the campaign issue.
Dato Seri Shafie Apdal is an excellent campaigner, Bapa Pengumuman in announcing promises not intended to fulfill, and unflinching in his hypocritical claims, but the general sentiment before campaign started in the north, interior and west coast are overwhelmingly against him.
There were heavy bombardment of revelations of wrongdoings by opposition against the ruling Warisan-dominated coalition led by Chief Minister Shafie. Unlike GE14, Warisan is not riding on the wave of hope and confidence.
For a ruling party, Warisan's campaign was not presenting their achievement but strangely, went on the attack with their openly and hypcritical anti-Malaya sentiment to blame for Sabah's underdeveloped condition, corruption allegations aimed at Tan Sri Musa Aman and practically blaming everything to the out frogged BN government.
Most of the allegations are generally half truth, fake news and hypocritical, which led to character attack on Shafie's character, corruption allegations, and reputation. Too few are justified and not sentiment play.
Shafie is under stress that his face is tense and seen as desperate. He has reached paranoia to pick on Dato Anifah Aman, whose party is smallish despite running for 73 seats.
Warisan had to counter the blatant corruption and power abuse allegations, poor economic management, compromised sovereignty cock-up, Semporna nepotism, and widespread citizenship to illegal immigrants by riling anti-Malaya and religious sentiments.
Loaded war chest from swindling state projects done blatantly throughout Shafie's 8 years at Rurul and Regional Development Ministry and 26 months as Chief Minister together with assistance from Tun Dr Mahathir's corporate cronies, Warisan can afford to shop.
To prepare the public and partly as campaign psywar, Warisan is creating a winning perception. Posters, banners and pamphlets are more prevalently seen than Federal government ruling parties.
Social media beefed up by alleged service of 5 key RBA operators for RM500,000. Mahathir and crony gave Warisan the national and longer TV media coverage. There are also opinion surveys by questionable independent surveyors to help sway a winning sentiment for Warisan. Pro-Amanah Ilham Center twiced announced results to favour Warisan.
Another outfit, the newbie SEEDS changed their reading from favouring BN and praising Tan Sri Muhyiddin for their pre-election survey to conclude their second survey with leaning for Warisan. Their latest lean towards Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS).
Whichever the surveyors, sampling is questionable as it is small and limited randomness to reach the diverse voters segment.
Shafie's immediate response to Dato Mohammad Katapi verbal screw-up to insult the service personnel for Lahad Datu incursion in 2013 was him giving playing down as small mistake, apologising for him, and offering RM10 million of state fund for "frontliners".
That was not the likely arrangement as the next day 2 servicemen were caught by their mate and handed in to MACC for giving political bribes to servicement. It proves Shafie and Warisan are buying their victory.
Whether it will be a legal case, it is another matter. For many years, Shafie wiggled out of billion-dollar corruption investigation by buying investigators and Mahathir's help got then AG and MACC Chief to pull the brakes. What is there to vote buying?
Frankly, it beyond the logistical capacity of MACC or EC to monitor or apprehend wrongdoers.
Only difference this time could be the close scrutiny of NRIC and document by immigration and police on the way to polling centres for suspected illegal immigrants with fake citizenship documents.
It will require a major deployment of manpower to target wide areas of Sabah East Coast and specific areas in the West Coast. It could also include blocking border entry via the sea.
The political operator for PPBM and PN, and Home Minister, Dato Hamzah Zainuddin spare no effort to deny Warisan a win.
M Katapi was a setback for Warisan with early voting the next day, but Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim's announcement the same day confused all sides. For Shafie, Lim Guan Eng's about turn from supporting Shafie for premiership to Anwar if he can get the number, was not helpful to Warisan.
Certain side in BN claim it was leading but Anwar's announcement coupled with Zahid's statement to claim himself helpless should any UMNO MP support Anwar is shaking its campaign. Without pondering deeply, they presume it will favour Warisan.
Actually, Sabahan generally do not believe Anwar and disregarded him as liar. It is money that was falling like rain yesterday that have the influence. Unless Anwar has foreign power backing, new Malaysia's power over policy will not favour him as PM.
Muhyiddin's verbal diatride
Tan Sri Muhyiddin was taken aback by Anwar's claim that he lost government and Istana's statement of Agong's accepting a planned audience a day earlier (but only postphoned by a week till his Highness is out of IJN).
Muhyiddin recovered in time to deliver the finale yesterday at Tambunan, the place PN's Deputy Chairman and STAR President, Dato Dr Jeffrey Kitingan will smooth sail in his brother's former constituency and PBS historical constituency.
His online publicist promoted Muhyiddin expressing confidence that GRS will win the state election and lead the state leadership. He, who responded to Anwar with the remark "I am still the Prime Minister", touched on the episode:
It was an almost direct message to UMNO that PPBM wants to the Chief Minister post for PPBM's Hajiji.
PPBM did not go head-on against UMNO.
However, it is suspected that either PPBM or Tan Sri Musa Aman for different reasons placed 11 out of the 56 independent candidates against UMNO candidates. They comprised of former UMNO Division Chiefs or recently resigned PPBM Division Chief against UMNO candidates.
All the independents are well funded and had campaign paraphenalia matching BN or even Warisan. There were those aggressive in giving transport money and are formidable candidates.
They remain influential since their days in UMNO such as Dato Musbah Jamil of Tampasuk, Kota Belud and Rubin Balang of Kemabung, Tenom.
The true identity of their political alignments will only be known few days after the result. There is the possibility that certain elder leaders are opposing the passing down of power to the next generation.
It is UMNO and PCS that is all for giving opportunity for young and new leaders. It made GRS suspicious that UMNO and PCS may tie up together to lead the state should the number be sufficient. It is difficult to deny it is a strategy to deny UMNO the seats but maintain power within GRS coalition
UMNO President Dato Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is quite unhappy with the prevalent underhanded development of conspiring to weaken his party. Other than the independents, UMNO candidates had to face STAR and PBS candidates.
Hamzah Zainuddin brokered for STAR and PBS mutual withdrawal but not for cases of seats contested against UMNO. Tan Sri Annuar Musa noticed this Sabah style of political manouvering early. It was confirmed when PBS signed entry into PBS in the midst of election.
Shooting feet for a friend?
UMNO members noticed the deceiving manner PN election logo colours emulate BN's and deceptive manner the dacing was placed to the left of PN's worded logo to deceive Sabahans with strong sentiment for BN's logo to make them comfortable to vote PN.
More suspicious was Muhyiddin's distasteful gloating of himself as the most popular Abah.
And, he threaten to deny assistance and development allocation to constituency not voting BN and PN. Dato Bung Mokhtar admitted BN has changed and Muhyiddin is reverting back to the unconstitutional act of the past.
It raised suspicion of his shooting his feet to give his "friend" and he rather have Warisan win than make "Undi balik" BN campaign a reality.
And there is suspicion he is in collusion with Anwar. Whispering along the corridors of Parliament is after Anwar's visit to his office during MCO, he has in return visited Anwar several times. The Prime Minister stooped to go meet Anwar.
Anwar's confidence to announce he has the number could spring surprise that Zahid Hamidi's tricky remark. To be discusses after the result later.
Shafie has obviously has limited Anwar and PKR to merely 7 tough seats versus 25 requested by the formerly most dominant opposition of Sabah. It served PN's election purpose to deny Anwar.
And to circumvent that Anwar has parked his several of his loyal men to run under USNO tickets since the returning grand old party of Sabah 47 contested seats.
LDP is also part of Tun Dr Mahathir's extended hands as it is believed Chong Kah Kiat is funded by Mahathir's corporate cronies to sabotage on PKR and DAP. His campaign is well funded and have been a rainmaker for the last few days.
After election, labelled as recycled LDP could only be expected to join Warisan PLUS.
There is only 73 seats but 447 candidates. One would expect vote splitting is at work especially through the 56 Bebas candidates and proxy parties and realignments of independent candidates and independent parties into ruling and opposition parties and coalition after the result.
The opposition seemed divided due to the disrupting presence of PPBM in which all but one of the BN state assemblymen crossed over to PPBM and PH after GE14. The "power sharing" arrangement at federal level forced UMNO to secede seats to PPBM.
BN coalition in Sabah cracked as only PBRS remained in BN and others left the coalition. UPKO crossed over to PH and gave Warisan the majority to wrest power from BN. Subsequently PBS pulled out of BN.
UMNO announced its decision to not join the PN coalition but PN managed to get STAR, SAPP and this week, PBS to join. The coalition for the election named by Tan Sri Muhyiddin as Gabungan Rakyat Sabah make up of BN, PN and PBS. BN is running in 41 seats, PN in 29 seats and PBS in 22 originally.
The dispute between STAR and PBS came about because the bigger party PBS insisted in dominating 30 of the 33 non-Muslim KDM seats. However, STAR took the view PBS is weakening due to leaadership vacuum and demanded 18 seats instead of the 5 allocated and end up running in 22 seats. PBS retaliated announced running in 22 seats agsinst the allocated 8 seats.
Other than their clash, they were denying UMNO in few seats. On the other hand, UMNO responded to denial of their seats by STAR in Liawan, Keningau by backing PCS and in Kuala Penyu, Beufort local UMNO leader ran as independent.
Political ideologies and philosophies take a back seat as leaders focus on retaining and defending their positions, never mind the voters who are hungry for development to make their lives better.However, Datuk Seri Anifah Aman seems to have introduced a new brand of politics with Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) that may appeal to the new young voters and old voters who are fed-up with the power struggle at the top.Fielding 73 candidates with about 90 per cent in their forties, he has remodelled the Sabah for Sabahans motto used by Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) in 1985 and Warisan in 2018 by rallying the local professionals to participate and take the lead.A young party where even Anifah himself seems not to be interested to become chief minister. He seems to be keen on leading young professionals and getting them to take an active role in charting the state’s future.The move may not jive with the other political parties that are contesting but Anifah may find his party becoming the king maker that will tilt the balance of victory.Multi-racial, multi-religious, and full of young professionals who are locals, PCS may be what Sabahans need.Anifah may even introduce a young new face to lead the state.
There are layers of political manouvering to split the votes of opponents. The independents pitted against UMNO could mean GRS losing to Warisan Plus, who seemed solid in view of GRS in-fighting. However, it is still too complex with overwhelming sentiment against Warisan built up over a year, at least.
Despite all the surveys and psywars of possible leads, Zainal Epi's prediction that it is everyone's game is more believable Anything could happen overnight despite Anwar's surprise and Katapi's setback.
Generally, east coast is under Warisan control, west coast is predominantly BN, and interior will be PCS, STAR and PBS. As much as one hope for BN to return by virtue of its wider presence and stronger machinery, multicorner fights deem common analysis and forecasting as irrelevant.
Money could certainly transport the world around, and sentiment for local party could tilt towards the well funded and media backed Warisan.
The consensus is that the absence of dominant party leading GRS and should there be no significant majority tomorrow for either Warisan or BN-PN or possible between winner BN and PN, Kota Kinabalu's commodity market trading floor for state assembly seats will be open for business tomorrow.
Election is not over with the results. Happy trading.