‘Big men’ factor will see Warisan edging BN in Kimanis, poll shows

Warisan flags flying high in Kimanis as it prepares for the by-election on Jan 18. (Bernama pic)

KIMANIS: The fact that it is the ruling party, coupled with the support from Pakatan Harapan, is expected to give Warisan the edge over Barisan Nasional (BN) in the Kimanis by-election on Jan 18, a survey showed.

A random survey by Ilham Centre found that the local party factor and the support of “big men”, or influential figures, will give Warisan the edge to win the by-election despite the controversial Temporary Sabah Pass (PSS).

“As the campaign period draws to an end this Friday, the PSS issue will continue to have an impact and will influence a little the campaign and voter sentiment,” the think-tank said in a statement, today.

BN’s one-term Bongawan assemblyman Mohamad Alamin is facing off against Warisan candidate, Karim Bujang, who is a veteran politician.

BN is banking on the PSS issue to derail Warisan’s bid for victory in Kimanis.

The survey carried out by a four-man panel comprised interviews with over 400 Kimanis voters between Jan 11 and Jan 14.

Ilham Centre said there was stiff and open competition in the first week of campaigning but Warisan seemed to have taken the lead in the second week.

The centre concludes that 67% of the 29,644 voters in Kimanis are Muslims, 30 non-Muslim Bumiputeras, 3% Chinese and 0.3% others.

“The political landscape in Sabah is interesting and dynamic compared to Peninsular Malaysia… the traditional politics of Sabah constantly revolves around the ‘big men’ who play a big role in affecting campaigns and the state’s psychological politics,” the centre said.

The PSS issue

The PSS has become one of the biggest issues in the by-election and the opposition had capitalised on it since the nomination day.

Among others, it is feared that the document will open the state to illegal immigrants, one of the long-standing problems in Sabah.

In the Ilham Centre survey, 62% of the respondents said they were well informed about the PSS while 38% said no.

Out of those surveyed, 38% supported the PSS, 30% were unsure and 32% said they opposed the implementation of the PSS.

“Most of those who opposed the PSS are the KadazanDusun Murut ethnic groups,” Ilham Centre said.

The ruling party advantage

Based on the survey findings, voters in Kimanis are more inclined towards the ruling parties, especially the Malays from Brunei and rural areas.

“Many of them think that it is important to vote for the ruling parties to ensure their welfare is taken care of and development and progress are brought into their areas,” Ilham Centre said

Local issues dominate

Unlike the May 9 general election, the Kimanis by-election sees local issues dominating the campaign.

As high as 87% of respondents said local and state issues were their main concerns while only 13% took note of the national issues.

The Malaysia Agreement 1963 also had little impact on the Kimanis voters as the issue was too complex and difficult to comprehend.