Monday, March 15, 2004

Pulled Out Or Bought Out?

More cheers were added to Sabah Barisan Nasional. BN won four more state seats uncontested, namely Labuk, Klias, Pantai Manis and Sugut, when three opposition and an independent candidates withdrew their candidacy during the three-day "cooling off" period which ends Tuesday.

With Monday's uncontested victory, declared by state election officer Mohamed Mokhtar Ahmad, the BN has so far won seven parliamentary seats and eight state seats in the election uncontested.

On nomination day last Saturday, the BN won the parliamentary seats of Kinabatangan, Beluran, Tawau, Beaufort, Papar, Kalabakan and Sipitang while the state seats were Tanjong Papat, Melalap, Apas and Sekong.

Mohamed Mokhtar said an independent candidate, Aklis Sigoh, also pulled out of the race in the Nabawan state seat.

Following his withdrawal, Nabawan will now see a three-cornered fight where BN's Bobby Suan is up against Gabriel Uwing Agunsong and Simpil Andingos, both independent candidates.

Except for Pantai Manis, the other three seats won uncontested today would have seen a straight fight after nominations closed on Saturday.

Pantai Manis was to have been a three-cornered fight but another candidate, Mohd Ishak Laimudin, of Bersekutu, pulled out of the race yesterday, followed by the independent candidate today.

Today's withdrawal of candidates also saw the BN emerged the ultimate winner in the Kinabatangan parliamentary constituency and the two state seats under it -- Sugut and Labuk.

According to Election Commission (EC) secretary Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, candidates had until midnight tomorrow to withdraw their candidacy.

However, those who withdrew after the nomination period, from 9am to 10am last Saturday, would have their deposits forfeited, he said. Withdrawals of candidacy are allowed under Regulation 9(1) and 11(7) of the Election Regulations (Election Conduct) 1981 which stipulates that a candidate who wish to withdraw candidacy, could do so within three days after the nomination day by filing a notice in person to the returning officer.

Sabah has 25 parliamentary and 60 state seats. With the victory, BN is now working on winning the remaining 18 parliamentary and 52 state seats.

The four BN candidates who won uncontested today are:

1. Datuk Michel Asang in Labuk (Yusof Apok of Pasok pulled out)

2. Datuk Lajim Ukin in Klias (Pasok's Matlani Sabli pulled out)

3. Datuk Abdul Rahim Ismail in Pantai Manis (Mohd Ishak Laimudin of Bersekutu and independent Mohd Hashim Yusof pulled out); and

4. Datuk Surady Kayong in Sugut (Haji Wahid of Pasok pulled out).

While we congratulate the winners for winning the seats uncontested, it does not stop people from wondering if the BN opponents were actually pulled out willingly, or being threatened like what some parties have claimed. Or was there any 'sandiwara' staged by the independents and opposition candidates who were there waiting to be bought. It is not a secret that many had used general election to earn some extra money. Some were purposedly sponsored to split votes while some were waiting for the 'direct negotiation' from ruling party candidates. The Election Commission must look into the matter.

How many left till the election day are yet to be seen. It would be sad if such practices were allowed to continue. It certainly tarnishes the image of the General Election, the Election Commission and Malaysia as a whole. Don't be surprise if the number of voters turn out is low on this coming Sunday. The hanky panky carried out by the politicians and opportunists are to be blamed.

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