Ex-Sabah footballer to bring same on-field tenacity to state polls

BN’s candidate for Tulid, Matusin Bowie (right) with Sabah BN election chief Bung Moktar Radin (centre) and BN candidate for Sook, Bonepes Been (left), on the campaign trail to the interior recently.

KOTA KINABALU: Those who know Matusin Bowie will remember that he was a fearsome tough-tackling defender during Sabah’s heyday in Malaysian football back in the 1990s.

Despite standing at 5ft 1in, Matusin, who is Barisan Nasional’s candidate for the new Tulid seat, still managed to strike fear in the hearts of his opponents and was even nicknamed “belian” (meaning teak wood) for his huge calf muscles.

The goal for this 51-year-old now is to bring the same tenacity he displayed in football to the political field.

Making his political debut, he will go head-on against six others.

“Basically, I’m bringing the same ‘never-give-up’ spirit I showed on the field so that my contenders know I mean business and am the main challenger for the seat,” he told FMT.

“Of course, I am not tackling people any more but I want my rivals to see that I am a candidate the people can easily approach to voice their problems.”

Playing as right back and sometimes deployed as a midfielder, Matusin was part of the Sabah team that created history when it won the FA Cup in 1995.

However, he and five others, including star striker Matlan Marjan, were later given a lifetime ban for alleged involvement in a match-fixing scandal. That ban was later overturned by the Football Association of Malaysia in 2017.

Matusin was not worried over the past, saying it will do little in hurting his chances in this election.

According to him, certain quarters tried to reopen old wounds by viralling stories over the match-fixing ban but it has not hampered his campaign.

“It has had no profound effect on my campaign because the people already know (that the ban has been lifted). And also because that was a long time ago.

“The irony is certain parties have leaders who are themselves embroiled in ongoing court cases and yet they still want to use my past as political ammunition,” he said.

Matusin said although he is facing allies from PN and PBS, his main contender is still Warisan, represented by Mudi Dubing.

He said he was “a bit nervous” at the start of campaigning as this was his first foray into politics, but thanks to guidance from PBRS president Joseph Kurup, he had been able to tackle what is needed from him.

“The last time when I still played football, I had to face thousands of fans. Now, there are only hundreds of people at any one time, so I can handle the pressure,” he said.

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