KOTA KINABALU, April 27 ― In Sabah, at least two new Barisan Nasional (BN) candidates are going into GE14 with expectations heavier than most.
The state BN has made a concerted effort to field new faces, and out of some 22 first timers, Yamani Hafez Musa and Arthur Kurup are two very recognisable names.
It was not a huge surprise when Hafez, the eldest son of the state BN chief and caretaker Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman was announced as the candidate for the Sipitang parliamentary seat. The 41-year-old Sipitang Umno Youth chief has been actively involved in politics in the past few years.
He takes over from Datuk Sapawi Ahmad who has been moved to contest the Sindumin state seat in the same constituency.
But Hafez is quick to deny those who say he is merely following his father’s political footsteps or because of his family’s name.
“I have aspirations of my own. I must learn the ropes and do things differently,” he said when asked whether he gets guidance from Musa or his uncle and caretaker Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman.
“What I can say is Kimanis, Sipitang and Libaran are all very different areas, with different needs and aspirations. I have to work it out. In politics, we are very professional. We stick to our own thing, and do our own thing. I think I have to seek my own way,” Hafez said after the candidate reveal in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.
Hafez is said to be a low-profile but shrewd corporate man, involved in several businesses around the state, purportedly including a geothermal power plant under Tawau Green Energy.
But he is most known as the Sabah BN youth chief who has been pushing the state’s young people to get more involved in nation building and politics.
“I was actually hoping for more Pemuda to be included in the GE14 this time, but I’m still happy,” said Hafez, referring to some nine candidates from state youth wings. Of these, six are below the age of 40.
“It’s nice not just because there’s a lot of representation for the youth, but across the board. There are candidates from UPKO and PBRS and PBS and some in important parliament seats. This bodes well for Sabah and the nation so there there is balance.
“I am optimistic of chances of them succeeding in this election,” he said.
Articulate and educated, Hafez said he was apprehensive to make election promises to the grassroots when asked what his pledges were.
“But what I can say is that there will be times we won’t be seeing eye to eye, but I will be listening to them the most during this time, and I will bring stakeholders to the table for better solutions,” he said.
In a similar development, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and de facto Unity minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup is stepping down from his Pensiangan parliamentary seat which he has been holding since 2008, for his eldest son Arthur, 35.
The younger Kurup was elected deputy president of Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah in 2015, and appointed to the board of directors for the Sabah Town and Housing Development Board in 2016. He is also a trained lawyer and a TN50 ambassador.
“Of course, as a father, I’m very proud. This is the time for the younger generation to lead, and Arthur, he’s young and very committed to the cause of rakyat.
“He’s not only been trained with local and state affairs but also exposed to international affairs. He is the best person to bring the new generation to face challenge of the National Transformation programme,” said Kurup senior.
In the hot seat of Penampang, Ceasar Mandela Malakun, whose father Clarence Bongkos Malakun was a decorated Sabahan leader, is being fielded to possibly take on Parti Warisan Sabah deputy president Darell Leiking.
Malakun, the youngest Sabah BN candidate at 27 years old, is aware of the weight on his shoulders in winning back the Kadazan Dusun Murut vote in the state’s indigenous heartland.
Armed with the BN machinery and a disarming smile, Malakun has been said to be the heartthrob of local politics and an up and comer.
“I’m humbled by the opportunity to contest the seat, and from what we have seen on the ground and the party’s efforts over the last five years, we have a good chance to take back the seat. We have two more weeks to work hard, and we will give it our best,” he said.
In Luyang, dentist Dr Pamela Yong, 42, will be taking over as the MCA candidate from her mother Datuk Agnes Shim, who lost the seat to Hiew King Cheu, who contested under a DAP ticket but has since defected to MCA.
Dr Yong, a mother of four, said that although she had reservations about contesting at first, she was now excited at the prospect of serving the people of Luyang.
“It will be a challenge but I urge the people to choose the candidate that can work and get their voices heard. I believe that with the resources of the party, we can bring organisation to the people of Luyang,” she said.
She also said that the decision to choose her over Hiew as a candidate came from the party leadership, and she hoped that the latter would help her in serving the people of Luyang.