SANDAKAN, May 10 — Parti Bersatu Sabah candidate Datuk Linda Tsen made her first public campaign speech last night, two nights before polling day, amid a show of unity among Opposition leaders.
Tsen, who has yet to hold her own public ceramah finally spoke to the crowd last night at the Indah Jaya Recreational Club, but her debut was overshadowed by the many personalities from Sabah’s varied political landscape.
Also in attendance were PBS president Datuk Maximus Ongkili, Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku president Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan, Sabah Umno chief Datuk Bung Moktar Radin, former Parliamentary speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin, Umno Sepanggar division chief Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Gabungan Bersatu Sabah chairman Datuk Mohd Noor Mansoor, Sabah Progressive Party president Datuk Yong Teck Lee, PAS’s Pengkalan Chepa MP Marzuk Shaary and others.
“We need to remind the federal government that Sabahans have not forgotten their manifesto to restore state rights, autonomy as well as other promises to the state. We must tell them we have not forgotten our demands,” said Noor Mansoor in his speech.
"This fight is between a local party and the federal government. In the end, if we win this seat but we don’t get to change the federal government, we have strengthened our voice to fight for the people of Sabah," said Abdul Rahman.
He said that although Umno was a national party, they had local autonomy to form their own direction.
“And now, despite all the differences in politics, we will come together in solidarity for the same reason, doesn’t matter which party the candidate is from as long as its opposition,” said the Umno supreme council member.
Earlier, Tsen was the first to take to the stage, speaking about the worsening economy and how people are worse off with the Sales and Services Tax.
She said her priorities are to bring development issues to the fore, fight for state rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, bring back Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M), oil royalty and the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN).
After a short speech in Malay, she switched to Chinese, despite the crowd consisting of some 300 to 400 mostly Malay-speaking voters.
But it was former Speaker Pandikar who really commanded the crowd as he fired shot after shot at the current government, criticising their statements, mannerisms and ideas.
Pandikar took aim at Gobind Singh Deo and DAP women representatives, among others, the latter of whom he implied came across as being whiny and jumpy.
“In comparison, Tsen is polite. She does things by the rules,” he said.
The United Sabah National Organisation member also took aim at Parti Warisan Sabah, likening them to an ostrich, a big bird that could not fly.
“If they see their enemy, they bury their head in the sand. They think that if they cannot see the enemy, the enemy cannot see them,” he said, flapping his arms and drawing laughter from the crowd.
“Count me as a friend to destroy this Pakatan government,” he said.
Polling for the Sandakan by-election will take place tomorrow, May 11. It will see a five-cornered fight between DAP, whose representative Datuk Stephen Wong passed away suddenly in March, against PBS and three independent candidates.