Although the Sabah state election is merely days away, the person making headlines so far isn’t any of the listed candidates and isn’t even someone from Sabah at all.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Anwar Ibrahim broke news on Wednesday afternoon that he as the majority to form a new government, citing that the numbers are “strong, formidable and convincing”.
Sending shockwaves across the country, especially in Putrajaya, the aftermath of the announcement could also be felt in Sabah, who themselves are in the midst of preparing for an election.
According to Dr Oh Ei Sun, Senior Fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, this news would be better for Warisan president Shaife Apdal to reaffirm his support for Anwar.
“In the ‘kingmaker’ seats, which are mainly Kadazandusun-Murut seats, I think they’re still somewhat undecided between restoring Sabah rights on one hand, and development on the other if you don’t vote in federal parties.”
“So if the federal party is aligned with Shafie and Shafie reaffirms his support for Anwar, then it’s alright, they’ll vote for the Shafie side, either UPKO or Warisan and so on.
“So it depends on Shafie’s decision,” Dr Oh said in an interview with Channel News Asia.
Sabah and Sarawak
Professor Dr Ahmad Martadha Mohamed heads the Governance and Integrity Cluster at Universti Utara Malaysia’s College of Law, Government and International Studies.
He says that if Anwar does in fact have a majority, it would not affect Sabah or Sarawak as as both generally prioritise the well-being of their own population.
“In Sabah, a lot of people are voting based on local parties and local issues,” the Kedah-based political analyst said, explaining that issues such as illegal immigration into the state had been a hot topic for the past 20 years in Sabah’s politics, along with other issues such as native land titles and infrastructure development.
“Likewise, Sarawak, and GPS (the ruling political coalition Gabungan Parti Sarawak) will play it safe, as they’re now part of the federal government, and have benefited from being in the Perikatan Nasional coalition,” said Prof Ahmad Martadha, referring to ministerial positions held by GPS MPs, as well as oil royalty payouts.
“Unless it is sure that the federal government is losing support, they’ll still consider supporting whoever can ensure their interests are protected,” he added in the same interview.