SANDAKAN, May 9 — Unfazed by Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s visit to Sandakan, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said he will not bar the former prime minister from entering Sabah to campaign in the by-election here.
The Warisan president suggested that Najib might be a talisman for him, noting that when the former prime minister campaigned against him in Semporna, this only resulted in a greater for him in the general election.
Shafie added that in a democracy, everyone has the right to free movement, even a person facing numerous criminal charges like Najib.
“He went to my hometown for how many number of days; as a result, I got an even bigger majority than before,” said Shafie when asked if he was concerned about Najib’s imminent visit.
Shafie had been Najib’s rural and regional development minister until he was sacked for raising the 1MDB scandal.
Saying that Sabahans were smart and could judge for themselves, he told reporters Sabah would not resort to closing its doors to Najib.
Sabah and Sarawak both have autonomy over their immigration matters and previous Barisan Nasional state governments used this power to prevent political rivals from entering and campaigning.
“Stop him? We never try to stop anybody. Who am I to stop anyone? Anyone can come here. There's no such thing.
“As long as they’re Malaysians they have the right. We don’t want to hear anyone say they cannot come here. As the chief minister I’ve not stopped anyone from coming here,” he said.
Shafie said that it was up to the people to decide who they want representing the constituency.
“They don’t need to be told. It’s not to Umno or PAS to tell people but for Sabahans who knows what they want.
“He had his chance to govern as prime minister. I was in Cabinet with him, I know what he can or cannot do, but as Sabahans we must think what is important is what’s good for Sabah, not what’s good for him,” he said.
The “Malu apa bossku” phenomenon is expected to come here on Friday in a last-minute show of support for the Parti Bersatu Sabah candidate, ostensibly to shore up Muslim Bumiputera backing.
DAP is believed to be leading the polls but only a section of the 51 per cent ethnic Chinese voting population in the constituency is expected to turn up for the polls, leaving space for the 46 per cent Muslim Bumiputera vote to play kingmaker.
DAP, being unfamiliar to the Muslim constituents, has had to rely on Shafie’s Warisan party to court the group
PBS, which is no longer in the Barisan Nasional coalition with Umno, has still accepted support from the Malay nationalist party.
Observers say that Najib’s popularity may help sway Muslim Bumiputera voters but will alienate the Chinese voters.
Voting for the Sandakan by-election is on Saturday.