A civil society group in Sabah is offering to 'screen' potential candidates to gauge their winnability in the 13th general elections.
Calling itself Democracy Sabah (Desah), the group said the idea is to ensure that Barisan Nasional (BN) incumbents are faced with only one opposition candidate and the voters are not left “confused”.
Desah is headed by former state secretary Simon Sipaun who described the current climate in the country as “highly politicised”.
“We formed this party to promote the idea [one-to-one fights] to political parties in the state although we realise that not many will agree.
“This country is highly politicised in terms of religion and race. This is unhealthy. We feel that it is not the correct political direction as far as the nation is concerned.
“So we are proposing a two-party system as we believe this is a better alternative to basing a system on racial and religious grounds, ” he told reporters here yesterday.
Sipaun said in the coming general election, Desah would encourage voters to go for “non-religious and non-racial politics”.
He claimed the group was expressing the views of the “ordinary people” who were closely watching developments in the Peninsula.
“They would like to see a one-to-one contest. Too many candidates would only confuse the voters, and the results, in some cases, could be lopsided,” he said.
Sabah is renowned for its multi-cornered fights and, according to Sipaun, there have been instances in the past when candidates who were “not supported by a majority” of voters were elected.
Gauging winnable candidates
Sipaun, who was a former Suhakam vice-chairman, said Desah’s immediate aim is to work towards ensuring straight fights in at least one-third of the 25 parliamentary seats in Sabah.
“The remaining seats can be a free-for-all as we do not think we have the time to cover all parliamentary constituencies,” he said, adding that Desah will leave the respective parties to sort out the 60 state seats in Sabah.
Sipaun said the group had spoken to various opposition leaders who were in favour of straight fights in the 25 parliamentary constituencies but were uncertain about ground support for the idea.
He said Desah was also offering to assist political parties in ensuring they have winnable candidates by putting them through the group’s “pre-selection process”.
“It is do-able, economical and professional method for the choice of candidates. We will hold debates and carry out a door-to-door poll on randomly selected voters in any constituency to see if candidates are suitable,” he said, adding that mock elections in selected constituencies among contending candidates could also be held to gauge their popularity.