Sabah will see one of the biggest tussle between BN, PKR and DAP.The biggest headache for BN is not the Mazu issue or the Chinese voters, it is the KDM (Kadazan Dusun Murut) electorates.
The three Kadazan based parties are not expected to do well in the coming polls due to widespread dissatifactions with their leaders for failure to address crucial issues. The loss of customary rights to their land, the perennial issue of illegal immigrants and the issuance of citizenship papers to illegal immigrants.
These contentious issues of illegal immigrants have made the local populace uncomfortable and suspicious of the motives of the Federal government for its refusal to find a permanent solution to resolve the problems. The state government had little power over the matters and the thorn have been in the flesh since the days of the USNO government.All subsequent governments including PBS, the Kadazan dominated government previously, had been unable to address the problem. The natives in Sabah consider the inaction of the Federal government as an exercise to further Malay hegemonic control over the state.
The issues of large tract of land given out to big companies is not a new issue but are problems created by the Kadazan leaders when they were in power. Thousands of acres of land earmarked to be given to smallholders by the then BERJAYA government were sold to Peninsula Malaysia based companies with financial benefits taken by those in power. Economic generators started by the BERJAYA government like SFI Paper Mill, Sponge Iron Plant and many others were sold to private companies from the Peninsula.
Yet the very man who destroyed Sabah's future together with his big brother when they were running the state and reputedly stole billions is now seen as a saviour of the KDM people through PKR, a Peninsula based party.
Sabah is now the biggest producer of palm oil and most big plantations are owned by Peninsula based companies giving the state very little left in term of cash revenue and investment resources. All financial transactions relating to this trade are done in Kuala Lumpur. Most Sabahans felt left out and deprived of the chance to enjoy the economic boom of the oil palm industry.
Most of the Kadazan leaders have little integrity and principle, with aptitude for kampong cunningness, rather than political shrewdness. History would repeat itself and the KDM will return to their old element of abandoning the BN through stealthy manipulations. The October 1990 state election was reminiscent of the brand of politics inherent in this community. PKR may win some seats in Sabah but are likely to lose all of it later to katak lumpat (party-hopping) if they can't form the next state government, which is an almost impossible task given the gerrymandered electoral boundaries.
The case of Jornah Mozihim, the assembly woman for Matunggong was an example of lack of integrity and principle of its President, Datuk Seri Pairin Kitingan who has written to her and confirmed in writing her candidacy.She was kicked out the last minute without her being given prior knowledge of the last minute change. The same goes with Tan Sri Bernard Dompok who shifted his party stalwart Donald Mojuntin, the incumbent for Penampang to Moyog and kicked out Philip Lasimbang from Moyog to ensure a safe seat for himself in Penampang.
The President of PBRS, Tan Sri Joseph Kurup must be the luckiest candidate.He went unopposed due to disqualification of the other two candidates. Kurup abandoned his constituency of Sook where he won by a slim majority of 395 in 2004 to escape from being slaughtered by Jeffery Kitingan in the forthcoming polls.He kicked out Bernard Maraat and took his seat. He was expected to lose if the seat was contested.
SUPP President Yong Tet Lee may have shot himself in the foot when he said he will retain all the incumbents of his party as they have done a good job and expected to get the Api-Api seat for himself which he failed to secure. He could have forced anyone of his boys to vacate a seat for him.He has shown chivairous principle by not doing what Dompok and Kurup did.
The political soothsayers predicted almost all the Kadazan leaders from the BN component parties including Joseph Pairin will have an uphill battle to retain their seats.
The KDM are back to their old elements. PKR is expected to capture significant number of seats from the Kadazan heartland but they are also predicted to abandon PKR for greener pasture.