KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 — The highly-anticipated Sabah state election is a contest between two political personalities only, namely Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and caretaker Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, according to a report by think-tank Ilham Centre.
The report, dubbed “The Executive Summary of the Sabah State Election 2020: Voting Patterns and Predictions”, stated that Shafie has a clear advantage due to his campaign strategy.
“This state election is actually a clash between Shafie Apdal and Muhyiddin Yassin. The latter comes across as very diligent and even his campaign schedule has been quite packed in Sabah.
“After examining their appeal, Shafie has the greater advantage of the two. Muhyiddin’s popularity in the peninsula seems to be quite limited here,” the report said in reference to Sabah.
“In this regard, Shafie has the edge due to his firm leadership in terms of seat distribution, use of symbols and choice of candidates. He demonstrated his ability to finalise the distribution of Warisan Plus seats despite being pressured by PKR during negotiations.
“At the same time, Shafie took the bold approach of dropping old, non-performing candidates and replacing them with new faces who are relatable to local voters,” added the report.
In contrast, Opposition alliance Gabungan Rakyat Sabah’s (GRS) direction remains unclear, with Muhyiddin failing to resolve seat allocation disputes among its component parties.
“Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN), on the other hand, took the approach of presenting almost 90 per cent new candidates.
“However, the stubbornness and ego of their leaders in refusing to comply with the ‘straight-fight’ clash requirement is likely to give Warisan Plus a slight advantage in some seats.
“Further, the lukewarm relationship between Bung Moktar and Hajiji Noor makes it hard to predict how Umno and Bersatu supporters will vote on polling day,” said the report, referring to Sabah Umno chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin and Sabah Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chief Datuk Hajiji Noor.
“Our observations in the field found that the Umno and Bersatu machinery did not cooperate with one another. This also had an indirect effect on their respective supporters.”
However, in this state election, Ilham Centre found that Sabahans indicated that they now prefer to vote for a candidate rather than a party.
“Some voters are very mature in evaluating the candidates who will be elected. ‘Radu’ (fights) and clashes can cause a change in voting pattern from being for a party to a candidate,” said the report.
Polling takes place tomorrow, with 447 candidates vying for 73 state assembly seats.