KOTA KINABALU: Semporna, which means “Peaceful Place”, will not be so peaceful in the next two weeks as its long-serving parliamentarian Shafie Apdal seeks to fend off a challenge by Sabah Umno firebrand Ramlee Marahaban.
Ramlee, who is the Sabah Umno deputy information chief, was announced as the Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate tasked to end the Warisan president’s political dominance in Semporna, a seat Shafie has held since 1995.
Shafie was an Umno vice-president before resigning in 2016, and also held the rural and regional development portfolio until he was replaced following a federal Cabinet shakeup in 2015.
He then took over Parti Kemajuan Warisan Sabah and rebranded it as Parti Warisan Sabah in 2016.
The party quickly gained prominence in the local political scene, thanks in part to Shafie’s popularity and its efficient media team.
On the other hand, Ramlee is a former businessman who first won the Bugaya state seat in the Semporna federal constituency in 2008.
He quickly rose through Sabah Umno’s ranks, and was appointed the party’s deputy information chief and Sabah assistant finance minister, assisting Chief Minister and Finance Minister Musa Aman.
Having served Bugaya faithfully for the past 10 years, Ramlee now has the chance to take on the man he has criticised for neglecting the coastal Semporna for the past 23 years.
For the next two weeks until the May 9 polls, the 42,000 Semporna voters will be hearing all kinds of reasons and hopefully not a lot of insults from both camps as they vie for votes.
Should Ramlee win the seat, he will go down as a giant killer, not only of Shafie’s immense political career but also Shafie’s Warisan.
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