A looming battle between two ex ministers in Penampang

KOTA KINABALU: The cold weather in Sabah, the Land Below The Wind, since last week due to rain and thunderstorms that brought with it a flood disaster seems to be unable to ease the heat of the state’s politics.


The warmth of the political temperature seems to be felt more and more, including the Penampang parliamentary seat just located on the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu City.

In what is seen to heighten the stakes, there are rumours that former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok will make a comeback in the 15th General Election (GE15).

Dompok is said to be likely to challenge the incumbent Datuk Darrel Leiking who is also the deputy president of Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) in Penampang

However, local political observer Mohd Zaki Harry Susanto gave a different view.

For Mohd Zaki, UPKO vice president Datuk Ewon Benedick, whose father the late Benedick Wong hails from Penampang, is the most suitable leader to take on Darrel for the Penampang parliamentary seat.

“If a young leader like Ewon contests using the Pakatan Harapan (PH) logo in Penampang, I think the competition will be stiff. Both of them – Ewon and Darrel have served as ministers at the state and federal levels respectively.

“In addition, the number of Kadazandusun and Chinese voters for the mixed Penampang parliamentary seat is almost the same, so I believe the two young leaders have equal chance of winning,” he told Jesselton Times.

Describing the clash between Ewon and Darrel as “giant vs giant”, Mohd Zaki said the two young leaders have their own strengths, winning convincingly in the Kadamaian and Moyog seats respectively in the last state elections.

He said they both stressed the interests and the rights of the people of Sabah in the State Legislative Assembly.

During the reins of the state government of Warisan, UPKO and PH plus previously, UPKO and Warisan were allies after UPKO helped Warisan and PH Plus then form the Sabah government but the political situation has since changed, and in GE15, Warisan no longer wants to be “friends” with UPKO and PH Sabah, and chose to go solo, although all are in the opposition block.

On May 10, 2018 UPKO made a bold decision to leave Barisan Nasional (BN) and form an alliance with Warisan, making the party the real kingmaker for Sabah. UPKO was instrumental in helping Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal become Sabah Chief Minister.

As a result of the political sacrifice, UPKO’s candidates were almost wiped out in the subsequent state election in 2020, except for Ewon in Kadamaian.

It is understood that UPKO, which is a component party of PH, will contest in five parliamentary seats in GE15.

Apart from Penampang, the party is expected to contest in Tuaran, Beluran, Libaran and Kimanis.

Party sources said that the incumbent
Tuaran MP Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau will defend the seat while UPKO youth leader Felix Joseph Saang will contest the Beluran Parliamentary seat.

Libaran UPKO Division Chief Dr Peter Jr Naintin and Kota Kinabalu Division UPKO Women’s Chief Rowindy Lawrence are likely to be fielded as candidates for the Libaran and Kimanis seats respectively.

The Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) from STAR is also expected to field a candidate for the Penampang Parliamentary seat.

Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal was quoted as saying recently that the party would most likely contest all 25 parliamentary seats in Sabah.

On June 27, 2020 Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was quoted as saying that he fully supported a proposal to nominate Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal as the prime minister candidate of the opposition.

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