KOTA KINABALU — April 17, 2019: Sabah MCA is geared up to contest the coming Sandakan parliamentary by-election on May 11.
Its chairman Lu Yen Tung said while the MCA leadership has yet to make an official announcement on whether to contest the by-election, he felt that the party is obliged to do so, given that almost half of Sandakan voters are members of the Chinese community.
“Now that only Umno and MCA are what is left of BN (Barisan Nasional) in Sabah, we should take part in this by-election,” said Lu in an interview with The Mole.
Lu, nonetheless, said MCA needs to be cautious in their campaigning efforts as the Chinese community was still seen as mostly supportive of its rival, DAP.
“Because the Chinese voters generally support DAP — we need to be very careful and study from various aspects before we announce something… What I can say is that if we contest, that means it will be a good fight,” he added.
DAP’s Wong Tien Fatt won the Sandakan seat in the 14th General Elections last year, where he garnered 10,098-vote majority to beat Lim Ming Hoo of LDP, which was then part of the BN coalition.
Wong’s death of a heart attack on March 28 necessitated the by-election to be held.
In the last polls, the constituency had 39,777 registered voters made up of Muslim bumiputras (43.9 per cent); non-Muslim bumiputras (4.09 per cent); Chinese (49.29 per cent); others (1.09 per cent).
Considering the almost equal number of non-Chinese voters in Sandakan, Sabah Wanita MCA chairman Dr Pamela Yong, in a separate interview with The Mole said racial politics ought to be the least of MCA’s worries as far as the future of the party is concerned.
“Although Sandakan is referred to as a Chinese majority constituency where about 49.29 per cent of the voters are Chinese, there are equally as many non-Chinese voters in the area,” she said, contending that a candidate‘s suitability is measured by the person’s merits, as opposed to his or her race.
“The choice of the candidate should not fall squarely on ethnicity but rather more importantly on someone who is best fit for the job and can best serve the constituents of Sandakan,” she added.
Dr Yong also insisted that there is already a spirit of discontentment against the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government that is pervading among Sabahans, including the local Chinese community over its failure to handle certain grassroots issues.
“There has been so much dissatisfaction expressed by the public due to the lack of concrete solutions in the governance of our country, particularly in the handling of the illegal immigrants, the unresolved issue of Sabah’s autonomy…
“Not to mention the mundane everyday hardship of the people caused by the rise in the cost of living and dismal handling of the country’s economy,” she said.
“We can see the frustration of the people in the last three recent by-elections. We believe the frustration is no different in Sabah — that is, the frustration not only of the Chinese voters but also all the voters regardless of ethnicity,” she said.
“This by-election would be an ideal avenue for the Sandakan people to make known their dissatisfaction and let it serve as a referendum of the people on this newbie government,” she added.