An election poster of Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal is seen during the Sabah State Election campaign in Luyang, Sabah September 14, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Sabah state election: Campaign begins to heat up in Warisan stronghold Semporna

SEMPORNA, Sept 14 — Campaigning in the three seats under the Semporna parliamentary constituency has begun to pick up pace, with the candidates in the Sabah state election making greater efforts to reach out to voters.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who is Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) president, has hit the ground running after nominations on Saturday for the Senallang seat, which he is defending in a five-cornered contest.

The same day, Mohd Shafie, who is also Semporna Member of Parliament, visited Pulau Bum Bum, which is about 10 minutes by boat from Semporna town.

Mohd Shafie was on the move from afternoon until late in the night, touring villages on the island of about 32,000 people.

The Senallang, Sulabayan and Bugaya seats come under the Semporna parliamentary constituency.

“Some 80 per cent of my campaign involved meeting the people. Not everyone has a telephone and internet. If we meet voters, they can see our faces,” he said.

On the second and third days of campaigning, Mohd Shafie visited several villages around Semporna before going to other places like Kunak, Lahad Datu and Tawau to help in his party’s campaign.

According to his observation, attendances at Warisan’s campaign events have been very encouraging.

In the case of Mohd Shafie’s challenger, Norazman Utoh Nain of Perikatan Nasional (PN), he kicked off his campaign by meeting community leaders in Senallang.

“I’ve met more than 50 per cent of the community leaders and my campaign method will change after this. We will enter the 11 polling district centres (PDM), with a target of visiting three PDM daily,” he said when met at the Senallang PN headquarters today.

Refusing to be overshadowed by his uncle Mohd Shafie, Norazman said he would explain to voters the need for a leadership change in the area, as he claimed there has been a lack of development.

Meanwhile, the PN candidate for Bugaya, Mohd Daud Tampokong, said although this is his first time contesting in an election, his campaign machinery was properly organised.

Mohd Daud, the Semporna Bersatu division chief, said he had covered four of the 11 PDM, focusing on the importance of installing a state government that is on the same page as the federal government to facilitate development.

“Our weapon is bringing our message directly to the grassroots,” said Mohd Daud, who is involved in a seven-way battle.

However, the campaign activities of the other candidates, from Parti Cinta Sabah, United Sabah National Organisation (USNO) and independents pale in comparison to those of the main alliances.

So far, posters and flags of Warisan Plus, Barisan Nasional and PN outnumber those of their rivals.

Warisan is dominating the poster war in the three state seats, as almost all main roads were filled with its flags and big billboards carrying a portrait of Mohd Shafie with the motto “In God We Trust, United We Must”.

Senallang has 14,336 registered voters; Bugaya, 20,267; and Sulabayan, 14,012. — Bernama