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Author: savemalaysia   |   Latest post: Sun, 25 Oct 2020, 3:40 PM


Concern over influx of undocumented migrants casts shadow on Shafie, Tangau’s campaign in Tamparuli

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KOTA KINABALU, Sept 18 — United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko) president Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau, who is contesting for the Kiulu state seat seems to be popular with residents in Tamparuli, a small town on the west coast of Sabah.

So much so that he was yesterday named as the next Sabah deputy chief minister by Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal if his Warisan Plus alliance emerges victorious on September 26.

However, the announcement drew mixed reactions from the residents of Tamparuli, largely comprising indigenous Kadazandusunmurut and a sizeable Sino population. 

“He is a good representative,” Christini Yangat, a sundry shop owner in Kampung Kiulu, said of Tangau who has been Tuaran MP since 1999 and is making his maiden run for a state seat in the Sabah election. Kiulu is one of the state seats parked under the larger Tuaran parliamentary constituency.

“I might still vote for him, but there are some things which I see that I don’t like,” Christini told Malay Mail.

“Because they have PTIs in their party,” the 48-year-old claimed, referring to Parti Warisan Sabah, the local-based party led by Shafie that came into power two years ago.

PTI, the Malay abbreviation for pendatang tanpa izin meaning undocumented migrants, is a long-standing social-economic concern for native Sabahans. 

In the north Borneo state bordering southern Philippines and Kalimantan Indonesia, the issue has become politicised by allegations of a naturalised citizenship deal between these migrants and Warisan in exchange for their votes. 

Shafie, born and bred and the MP for Semporna, a parliamentary seat on the porous east coast, has repeatedly denied these claims but they continue to persist, in part due to his Bajau Laut ancestry which have continued to be raised by his political enemies in Barisan Nasional.

Housewife Haslinda Joipin, 37, said she believes in Tangau because of the work and development he fought for the constituency, pointing out, in particular, the installation of cell phone signal towers earlier this year. 

“All these claims are just political propaganda by the Opposition and this kind of thing is normal, see we have to just look through them,” she told Malay Mail.

Another pro-Upko voter, Sumail Saiman, 43, said Tangau was merely being politically savvy in choosing to work with Warisan back in 2018. 

Sumail sees the alliance with Warisan as a masterstroke by Upko, saying only a local party can champion the rights of Sabahans if it is in control of the state. 

“We support Upko because we want our rights as Sabahans and we will make sure Upko wins,” he said. 

He added that he never bought into the PTI allegations, like Haslinda, also playing them down as propaganda. 

For 48-year-old rubber tapper and Kiulu voter Yawas Tagih, Tangau’s partnership with Shafie amid the PTI-related speculations was enough reason for his vote to go to Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS). 

The state Opposition party is fielding Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, Tangau’s former ally and now arguably his main competitor for the Kiulu seat.

Like Christini, Yawas perceives Shafie and the Warisan Plus alliance that ran Sabah for a brief 26 months after winning the election in 2018 as taking a soft stand against PTIs and an insult to native Sabahans.

“I don’t like Warisan because there are many PTIs in the party. And during their administration, I heard even more PTIs were coming into the country,” Yawas claimed. 

Yawas conceded that the Shafie administration has provided aid to his hometown in Kampung Kiulu, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, but insists he will not change his position as a self-declared staunch PBS supporter. 

He even claimed that a majority of the 100-odd residents in his village shared similar views about Shafie and were against voting for Tangau.

He added that PBS’ alliance to the federal Perikatan Nasional government was more reason to vote for the party as there would be additional funds for Sabah’s development.

Another local voter who also declared his support for PBS and wanted to be identified as Parik said he would not give his vote to Warisan because he believes that PTIs will begin to flood into Sabah if Shafie and his allies are elected. 

The 27-year-old farmer, who expressed such sentiments after attending Tangau and Shafie’s campaign in hilly Kampung Lokub, even claimed to have met a naturalised immigrant possessing a blue Malaysian IC.

“If he is the chief minister, thousands of foreigners will flood the country through his area in Semporna, you will start seeing the boats coming towards the coast,” Parik said of Shafie.

“We don’t want that,” he added.

Parik conceded that he had no qualms as a voter supporting Tangau as a candidate, but the association with Warisan, he claimed, will drive many in the electorate like him to turn against Upko. 

Shafie made the long and winding journey to several villages in Tamparuli yesterday. 

On the surface, the pomp and ceremony he received during the Tamparuli tour was similar to many other earlier places on his campaign trail.

Arriving in his Toyota Fortuner SUV just before 10am to the 200-odd attendees in Kampung Lokub, Shafie was enthusiastically greeted with fist bumps and handphone camera-toting residents keen for a snapshot with the caretaker chief minister.

Campaign for the Sabah state election will last until 11.59pm on Friday September 25, with voting the next day. 

Some 1.1 millions Sabahans are set to cast their vote in a premature 16th state election, only 26 months after GE14.



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