SANDAKAN, Sept 23 ― While Barisan Nasional (BN) Sabah chairman, Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin may leave a negative impression on people from the way he speaks in Dewan Rakyat over the years, talk on the ground has it that he is a “sure win” in the Lamag state seat.
Lamag is located right in the centre of Bung’s stronghold, Kinabatangan. Bung had held the Kinabatangan parliamentary seat since 1999.
He recently confidently said that the people in Lamag had “begged” for him to become a candidate so that he could represent them.
“It takes a ‘special species’ to have this kind of support,” he said, proudly at a campaign session in Bandar Labuk Mile 7 here, recently.
People from outside of Kinabatangan may wonder why Bung has such strong support in Kinabatangan, but the locals opined that Bung was the one who transformed Kinabatangan from a forest, to a developed small town.
The most developed part of Kinabatangan, a district bigger than Pahang, is Kota Kinabatangan, which is located right in the centre of Lamag.
Lamag is one of the 13 new seats added into the existing 60 state seats in the State Election this time.
“Bung did all this,” said a local, Mohd Nor Najam, 52, referring to Kota Kinabatangan’s transformation.
Mohd Nor said back in 1978, this place was all covered with trees with limited road access.
“Back in the days, when we wanted to buy groceries, we had to go all the way to Sandakan. It took us from three to four hours to reach Sandakan because the road condition was so bad. Sometimes we had to spend a night in Sandakan.
“We did not have an ATM machine or a bank back then. With Bung’s initiatives, Kinabatangan had its first bank, Agro Bank, equipped with an ATM machine, some 10 years ago. Now we have two banks with the addition of BSN bank.
“We have better road access now with 75 per cent of the roads connecting to Kota Kinabatangan to Tongod and Sukau paved,” he said.
Kota Kinabatangan today has schools, hospitals, fire stations, a hall, and other basic facilities. It has about a dozen rows of shop lots with full tenants; a mix of restaurants, hardware shops, fashion outlets, and government agencies offices.
However, Mohd Nor said he hoped whoever wins the seat would build a mini sports complex and a community hall in Kinabatangan.
“We need a bigger hall. We need a mini sports complex because our athletes have no proper training place, especially our football athletes. All these were approved about three years ago. Even the ground breaking ceremonies for these two facilities had been done.
“However, it all stopped after Parti Warisan Sabah took over. We hope our future representative will listen to our needs,” he said.
Meanwhile, a 73-year-old grandmother, Jaidah Ottoh said that although she does not know who is contesting under Warisan in Lamag seat, she is still going to support Warisan because of its president, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
“Shafie fights for our people; at least that is how I see him. We long for a change in this place. Some villages such as Kampung Seri Manis, Kampung Sinar Jaya, and Kampung Tabak still do not have access to clean water and electricity.
“Look at this. We wanted electricity and water here, and they gave us lamps and water tanks. How are we supposed to use the lamps? Where are we going to get water to fill the tanks?” she said.
Jaidah was referring to lamps hanging from the roof of an open court, and a water tank at the back, where she sells banana fritters daily. She blamed the past BN Government for it.
From a young voice here, Mio Ruki, 34, said that he has been supporting BN since he could vote, and will continue to do so.
“At least I know that Bung would never become a ‘frog’. His direction is clear, and he would not confuse the people by jumping from one party to another,” he said, hinting that he had voted for Kuamut’s incumbent assemblyman, Datuk Masiung Banah, before Lamag was added in Sabah State Seat.
Mio, who repairs mobile phones for a living, urged for future Lamag’s representative to pay extra attention to the Rakyat, especially the youth.
“Other than more job opportunities, we hope for more entrepreneurship programmes from the government to help youths like me to earn a better income,” he said.
Bung may not be a likeable figure elsewhere, but he is the local’s favourite “YB” in Kinabatangan.
He is facing four other opponents in the Lamag including Junny @ Karuak Abdullah (independent), Mohd Ismail Ayob (Warisan), Sairin Abdul Rahman (Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah) and Razmnan Mayah (Parti Cinta Sabah).
Lamag records 8,159 voters according to the latest data from Election Commission. ― Borneo Post