KOTA KINABALU: Ever since Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) announced its intention to contest in the May 11 Sandakan by-election, questions have been asked as to who the oldest local party will choose as its candidate.
While DAP did not surprise anyone when it decided on Vivian Wong, 30, the youngest daughter of the late Sandakan MP Stephen Wong as its candidate, the PBS leadership had tossed around a few names, including those of an engineer as well as a lawyer.
However, as the nomination day (April 27) draws closer, it is becoming clear that the party will settle on its vice-president, Linda Tsen, the former two-term Batu Sapi MP, to contest the seat.
Speaking to FMT today, a PBS Supreme Council member, who wished to remain anonymous, said the party is likely to name Tsen as its candidate after considering the wishes of the party grassroots in Sandakan.
“To be fair, Tsen was quite reluctant because she believes the party should name someone new and younger this time around.
“But the other potential candidates are not ready because they are worried about the repercussions.
“These other potential candidates run businesses and they are concerned that, even if they win, their businesses will be affected,” the source said.
The party believes Tsen is the best candidate because she is originally from Sandakan and is known by the locals and, more importantly, favoured by the grassroots.
PBS is expected to announce its candidate tomorrow in Sandakan.
The source also revealed that other local parties, including Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) and Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR), as well as national-based parties like Umno, are ready to assist PBS face this by-election.
The by-election is expected to be interesting as Sandakan folk have not been known to be either hardcore DAP or BN voters in the past.
Between 1971 and 2018, spanning 12 general elections, the seat has changed hands among BN, DAP and PBS plenty of times.
The last time PBS won the seat was in 1990. It lost it to BN in the 1995 general election. An independent managed to win the seat in 2004 for one term.
Perhaps this is the reason why former Sabah Amanah chairman Hamza Abdullah and former DAP member Chia Siew Yung have decided to try their luck and stand as independent candidates this time.
Gerakan has already announced its withdrawal after their potential candidate, former deputy chief minister Raymond Tan, ditched the party a few days ago.
Where Tan is going after this is anybody’s guess but rumours have been going around on social media that the former Tanjung Papat assemblyman is set to join Warisan over the next few days, together with former Elopura assemblyman Au Kam Wah.
Sandakan is a mixed seat with 49% Chinese, 44% Muslim Bumiputeras and 7% non-Muslim Bumiputeras. It has a total of 39,777 registered voters.
The seat became vacant following the death of Stephen Wong last month.
Wong had won the seat after defeating BN candidate Lim Ming Ho in a straight fight, garnering 19,094 votes against Lim’s 8,996 votes.