In video war for Sabah poll, Warisan’s Shafie strikes the right chord with Sabahans

Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal greets supporters while campaigning in Tempasuk, Kota Belud, Sabah, September 16, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal greets supporters while campaigning in Tempasuk, Kota Belud, Sabah, September 16, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 23 — In the contest for the Sabah state election being waged on social media, a series of deftly-prepared videos from Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal has given him an edge.

The Senallang incumbent released the highly-produced series, which appeared designed to highlight the native Bajau Laut leader’s soft-spoken personality as well as the message of Sabahan and Malaysian unity he has made the cornerstone of his campaign.

In one emotive video, he spoke of perseverance in times of near disaster, while in a Malaysia Day video, Shafie shared snippets of his personal life, background and multicultural family and values as a Sabahan leader.

Yet another video featured an uplifting message about unity, using Sabahan’s love of song and pride for its racial tolerance and culture.

A further series titled Cerita Orang Sabah (Sabahan tales) highlighted the Warisan state government's various achievements and how it has effected change on the ground in just two years.

The videos appear professionally prepared and were narrated personally by Shafie.

These have been circulating on social media, especially among local WhatsApp groups whose participants typically commented on how expertly made these appeared.

Some comments also demonstrated that the Shafie’s call for unity was resonating both with Sabahans and Malaysians elsewhere.

“This is what a Sabahan leader is like,” said one Lee Lum Tee.

Another commenter named Rashid A. Mohd said: “How great would it be if West Malaysia had a leader like this too. Multicultural, tolerant and Sabah itself is so blessed with natural beauty. Sabah is the best.”

However, Shafie’s camp was not alone in using videos to send their campaign messages across.

One such rival was former Sabah tourism, culture and environment minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun, the Karanaan incumbent who was pushing a message of Kita Orang Ranau (We are the people of Ranau) that extolled the virtues of the Dusun majority in Ranau known for their particularly peaceful mix of half Muslim, half Christian community.

The series of videos featured excerpts of Masidi’s speeches from the campaign trail, interspersed with accompanying footage of the Ranau landscape and life.

The videos appeared to be of comparable quality to those prepared for Shafie.

“I want people to know and love people from Ranau and for us to love Ranau too.

“We may have differences when it comes to politics but that only affects us once every five years. We are from Ranau — the best example of tolerance, hardworkers, friendliness, brains and deserving of a developed town. That alone may be a uniting factor,” Masidi said.

Other videos from Umno, DAP and PBS candidates have also emerged but few have gotten the same online traction.

While these have been popular in Sabah’s urban and semi-urban areas, it was not immediately clear how they have performed in the more rural parts of the state or even if they were able to be viewed there.

Spotty Internet connectivity is a long-standing complaint among Sabahans and the issue erupted anew just ahead of the state election when two federal deputy minister accused local student Veveonah Mosibin of faking a video of herself camping atop a tree in June as that was the only way she could reliably get online to take her university tests then.

Sabahans will head to the polls on September 26.

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