Shafie Campaigns In East Coast Stronghold, Moves Up North Next

SEMPORNA: Campaigning in the three state seats here has begun to pick up pace, with the candidates in the Sabah elections making greater efforts to reach out to voters.

Warisan president Shafie Apdal hit the ground running after nominations on Saturday for the Senallang seat, where he seeks re-election in a five-cornered contest.

Shafie visited Pulau Bum Bum, about 10 minutes by boat from Semporna town, and was on the move from afternoon until late in the night, touring villages on the island of about 32,000 people.

The Senallang, Sulabayan and Bugaya seats form the Semporna parliamentary constituency, where Shafie was elected MP in 2018.

“Some 80% of my campaign involves meeting the people. Not everyone has a telephone and internet. If we meet voters, they can see our faces,” he said.

On the second and third days of campaigning, Shafie visited several villages around Semporna before going to other places like Kunak, Lahad Datu and Tawau to help his party’s other candidates.

He said attendances at Warisan campaign events have been encouraging.

Shafie’s challenger, his nephew Norazman Utoh Nain of Perikatan Nasional, kicked off his campaign by meeting community leaders in Senallang.

“I’ve met more than 50% of the community leaders and my campaign method will change after this. We will enter the 11 polling district centres with a target of visiting three a day,” he said.

Refusing to be overshadowed by his uncle, Norazman said he would explain to voters the need for a leadership change in the area, as he claimed there has been a lack of development.

Mohd Daud Tampokong, the PN candidate for Bugaya, is an election novice, contesting for the first time.

Mohd Daud, who is Semporna PPBM division chief, said he had covered four of the 11 polling districts, focusing on the importance of installing a state government that is on the same page as the federal government to facilitate development.

“Our weapon is bringing our message directly to the grassroots,” said Mohd Daud, who is involved in a seven-way battle.

The campaign activities of the other candidates, from Parti Cinta Sabah, United Sabah National Organisation (Usno Baru) and independents pale in comparison to those of the main alliances.

So far, posters and flags of Warisan Plus, Barisan Nasional and PN outnumber those of their rivals.

Warisan has dominated the poster war in the three state seats. Almost all the main roads were filled with flags and big billboards carrying an image of Shafie with the motto “In God We Trust, United We Must”.

Senallang has 14,336 registered voters; Bugaya, 20,267; and Sulabayan, 14,012.