Five-cornered fight in Sandakan by-election

DAP’s candidate Vivian Wong Shir Yee (centre) arrives at the nomination centre at Dewan Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan in Sandakan April 27, 2019. — Bernama pic
DAP’s candidate Vivian Wong Shir Yee (centre) arrives at the nomination centre at Dewan Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan in Sandakan April 27, 2019. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — The Sandakan by-election will be a crowded affair with five candidates in the fray after the nomination period closed this morning.

DAP’s Vivian Wong will attempt to defend her late father’s seat against Parti Bersatu Sabah’s (PBS) Linda Tsen and three Independent candidates — Hamzah Abdullah, Chia Siew Yong and Sulaiman Abdul Samad.

Greenhorn Wong, 30, is the youngest daughter of Datuk Stephen Wong Tien Fatt whose death on March 28 necessitated the by-election.

PBS vice president Tsen, however, is an experienced politician. The 64-year-old is the former two-term MP of the neighbouring Batu Sapi seat, which she had won in a by-election in 2010 after her husband and then incumbent Edmund Chong was killed in a road accident.

Tsen was defeated by de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong in the general election last year.

Of the Independent candidates, Hamzah, 65, is the former state chief of Parti Amanah Negara and PAS. He also ran on the Amanah ticket for the Batu Sapi parliamentary seat in the election last year but secured less than a thousand votes.

Malaysiakini reported earlier today that Hamzah, who resigned from his party post last August, had quit Amanah yesterday.

Amanah secretary-general Mohd Anuar Mohd Tahir confirmed that he had left the party.

The youngest of the three Independent candidates, Sulaiman, 36, was a former administrative assistant of the late Sandakan MP, while Chia, 46, is an adviser of a non-governmental organisation called Suara Bebas Rakyat.

Returning officer Mohd Hamsan Awang Supain had announced the names of the candidates at 10.30 am at the nomination centre at Dewan Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan (SMJK) Tiong Hua.

Bernama reported that Sulaiman was the first candidate to hand in his nomination papers, at 9.05 am, followed by Tsen (9.06 am), Hamzah (9.08 am), Chia (9.09 am ) and Wong (9.14 am).

The Sandakan seat has two state constituencies, Tanjong Papat and Elopura, with a total of 40,131 eligible voters, including 270 early voters and five absentee voters.

The late Wong, who was also Sabah Minister of Health and People’s Wellbeing, was first elected as Sandakan MP in 2013 when he defeated Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Datuk Leong Vui Keong with a majority of 1,088 votes.

Last May, he retained the seat with a majority of 10,098 votes against BN candidate Datuk Lim Ming Hoo.

Early voting for the Sandakan by-election is on May 7 with polling on May 11.