KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 ― Less than half of the 39,684 registered voters in Sandakan have cast their ballots by 3pm today, the Election Commission (EC) announced.
Despite opening polling half an hour earlier than usual in the parliamentary by-election this time around, only 47 per cent emerged to vote, far below the election regulator’s target of a 70 per cent turnout.
Polling opened at 7.30am and will close at 5pm today.
The voter demography of Sandakan can be broken down into 51 per cent ethnic Chinese, 45 per cent Muslim Bumiputera and the rest are of other races.
The Sandakan parliamentary election was called following the March 28 death of its elected MP Datuk Stephen Wong Tien Fatt from the DAP.
The five-way contest involves the daughter of the late Sandakan incumbent Vivian Wong Shir Yee from DAP, Parti Bersatu Sabah candidate Datuk Linda Tsen Thau Lin and three independents ― former Sabah Parti Amanah Negara founder Hamzah Abdullah, businessman Chia Siew Yung, and a former officer at the Sandakan parliamentary constituency service centre, Sulaiman Samat.
The Sandakan poll is the eighth to be called after the 14th general election in May last year that catapulted Pakatan Harapan into federal victory.
The first parliamentary by-election was Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan on October 12, 2018 won by PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, followed by Cameron Highlands, Pahang on January 26 won by Barisan Nasional’s Ramli Mohd Nor who became the first Orang Asli MP.
The other by-elections called have been for state seats, starting with Sungai Kandis, Selangor on August 4, the twin Selangor by-elections of Balakong and Seri Setia on September 8, Semenyih in Selangor on March 2 and Rantau in Negri Sembilan on April 13.