KOTA KINABALU: The Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan)’s decision not to work with the opposition coalition or going solo in the upcoming the 15th general election (GE15) risks the possibility of losing in at least four mixed seats.
The four mixed seats, namely Sepanggar, Batu Sapi, Penampang and Kota Belud were won by Warisan with a commendable majority in GE14.
Sepanggar is currently represented by Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman, Batu Sapi (vacant seat after the death of the late Batu Sapi MP Datuk VK Liew), while Kota Belud and Penampang are represented by Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis and Datuk Darell Leiking respectively in Parliament.
Local political observer Mohd Zaki Harry Susanto believes Warisan would surely be in a better position to retain the seats if it cooperates with the other opposition parties, especially Pakatan Harapan (PH).
Political Observer Mohd Zaki Harry Susanto
He predicts Azis, Isnaraissah Munirah and Darrel will be challenged by former members of Parliament Datuk Jumat Idris (Sepanggar), Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak (Kota Belud), both from Barisan Nasional (BN) and Tan Sri Bernard Dompok or Datuk Donald Mojuntin (Penampang) of Pakatan Harapan (PH).
*By going solo, I think it may split the opposition votes. It appears Warisan is “overconfident” of winning all the four mixed parliamentary seats even without the support of PH in GE15.
“Bear in mind that these seats – Sepanggar, Batu Sapi, Penampang have a substantial number of chinese voters while Kota Belud has a big number of Kadazandusun voters that can contribute to the pendulum swings. ..so I think this is where Warisan has to be prepared for the risks and challenges that come with it, ” he said.
Warisan is also expected to face the might of the BN and Perikatan Nasional (PN) election machinery, he said.
Mohd Zaki said it was puzzling for Warisan going solo and not maximize its chance of winning all the mixed seats with the backing of PH, thus disappointing the people’s aspiration of seeing a united opposition in the state.
Before this, he said Warisan seemed to be deliberately raising tensions with PH to distance itself from the opposition coalition.
“In fact, cracks have emerged in its relationship with DAP after Warisan decided to recruit two of its former elected representatives – – Elopura and Sri Tanjung states assemblymen,” he said.
Zaki said Warisan was obviously looking for a different coalition to work with in GE15.
However, he said it would be difficult for Warisan to win many seats in Sabah, if it did not join forces with another party in GE15.
Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal had said recently the party would contest all 25 parliamentary seats in Sabah, one in Labuan, and several in Peninsular Malaysia.
However, Shafie said Warisan was open to working with Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).
PBS had turned down working with Warisan in GE15, saying it would remain with the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah coalition.
Other parties in GRS are Sabah Bersatu, Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR), the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and United Sabah National Organisation (Usno).
“Politics is a game of possible. Nothing is impossible. I won’t be surprised Warisan will eventually strike a deal either with PBS or even with PH,” said Zaki of the election conundrum prevailing in Sabah.
Sabah politics has never failed to amaze observers for the longest time.
With the full focus in GE15 only on Parliamentary seats without the state election this time, the impossible could happen and vice versa.
In short, anything could happen but we can expect voters to go for political stability at the end of the day.