SANDAKAN: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Mohd Shafie Apdal made the last call on voters to give their support to the DAP candidate in the Sandakan by-election polling starting at 7.30 am Saturday.
He said the victory of Vivian Wong Shir Yee, 30, would help ensure Sabah rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) would be restored by voting for the Constitutional Amendment at Dewan Rakyat.
“We have the right and desire. Sabahans want the whole Malaysia to know that we are partners with the same status.
“Make sure our representatives voted in Parliament. This Constitutional Amendment is important to us,” he told a grand finale ceramah for the Sandakan by-election here Friday night.
Shafie said the victory of the DAP candidate will strengthen cooperation in the state government under the leadership of Parti Warisan Sabah with Pakatan Harapan and UPKO.
“If you are a voter in Sandakan, choose Vivian Wong to make it easier for us to cooperate in implementing the agenda to make Sandakan as a dynamic town.
“Vivian is a dynamic person who has been accompanying her father (Datuk Stephen Wong Tien Fatt) on all matters relating to the people and she knows the problems faced by the people here,” he said.
Vivian was seen wiping her eyes when Shafie mentioned his close ties with her late father when he was the Sandakan MP.
When delivering her campaign finale speech, Vivian who was holding her tears back pledged to work hard like her late father and would not betray the people.
The Sandakan parliamentary seat fell vacant following the death of Stephen Wong of a heart attack on March 28.
The ceramah finale was held in front of the DAP office in Bandar Letat Jaya here, and despite the steady rain that started falling since 8.30pm, the crowd remained to listen to Shafie deliver his message.
“The rain is a blessing. We have been waiting for the rain to come, and now it did,” Shafie said, referring to the dry spell in Sabah, drawing applause from from the crowd.
“Sabah is much better than some other states as we have resources such as timber, oil and gas.
“We must tell the world we have our rights.
“So we must make sure our (Sandakan) representative in parliament is not Umno, not PBS, not PAS, but DAP.
“We cannot be taken for granted as we were during the Barisan Nasional era.
“We must be treated equally as in the Malaysia Agreement 1963,” Shafie said.
Vivian, when delivering her final bid for votes, was overcome with emotion as she pledged to do her best in honour of her father despite being a novice.
“I will bring the voice of Sabah to parliament even if I am young, even if I am a woman,” she said to a roaring crowd.
Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, who is PKR deputy president echoed the sentiment.
“If Sandakan wants corruption, wants the country to have billions of debts, support PBS. But if Sandakan folks want leaders who have integrity, support DAP candidate Vivian.
“That is why tonight we see Chinese, Muslim bumiputras, Kadazans and others here as we are united,” Azmin added.
Among the other stalwarts present at the gathering was Finance Minister, Lim Guan Eng, Defence Minister, Mohamad Sabu, Transport Minister, Anthony Loke as well as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Liew Vui Keong.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission (EC) has appointed about 800 workers to facilitate the by-election.
Its deputy chairman Dr Azmi Sharom said the number of officers at channel one and two, which are specifically for elderly and disabled voters would also be increased.
EC targets a voter turnout of at least 70 per cent at the 19 centres involving 90 channels, he told reporters here , adding, the result is expected to be known by 10 pm.
The Sandakan constituency consists of two state seats, Tanjong Papat and Elopura, with 40,131 registered voters including 270 early voters and five absentee voters who are living abroad.
DAP, PBS and three independents candidates are vying for the parliamentary seat.
Azmi said voters who had already obtained their voter’s card could go directly to their channel without having to verify at the EC booth.
“Those who have not received their voter’s card are advised to check at the channels or through www.spr.gov.my, or 03-88927018, or EC’s application ‘MySPR Semak’ or SMS to 15888 (type SPRSEMAK Identity card number).
In a statement here, he advised voters not to hand their identity card to anyone other than the EC worker during the by-election.
Meanwhile, Azmi issued a stern reminder that the by-election campaign officially ends at 11.59 today. Candidates and their supporters are prohibited from further canvassing and wooing voters in any form including at the voting centre.
He said voters or individuals would be denied entry at the voting centre and legal action taken against them if they failed to abide by EC Regulations.