COMMENTARY, Sept 25 — When campaigning for the Sabah state election officially ends at midnight tonight, it will give rival parties time to take stock of their positions before polls open in the morning.
Incumbent Parti Warisan Sabah and its allies, led by caretaker Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, have raced against time to defend their positions.
However, their closest rivals Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) — a loose coalition comprising Perikatan Nasional (PN), Barisan Nasional (BN) and various state-based parties — continue to snap at their heels.
Both sides appear confident of their chances, but at the same time, remain cautious due to the fluid situation that might yet yield an unexpected twist of fate tomorrow.
Warisan was in the lead during the early part of the campaign, but suffered a setback when its candidate and former federal minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi scored an own goal following much-criticised remarks over the 2013 Lahad Datu incident.
He is said to have alienated not only the state’s 16,000-plus Armed Forces and police personnel, but also the Kadazan-Dusun community who have long harboured suspicions of the Murut-Suluk community.
GRS were of course quick to capitalise on the situation in an effort to push ahead in the race.
Whether this will have any bearing on tomorrow’s election remains to be seen, however, largely due to the lukewarm reception that greeted the advent of state elections.
Sabah voters are usually a passionate and vocal bunch but their distinct lack of excitement this time around means they have been hard to read, and therefore, made it almost impossible for parties to judge where they stand.
The concerning Covid-19 situation notwithstanding, people have simply not come out in force for ceramah, nor has there been much coffee shop chatter.
Approximately 1.1 million Sabahans are expected to cast their vote to determine their future tomorrow.
But perhaps less certain is what the outcome will be and the plans that party leaders might have up their sleeves should the result be too close to call.