By Luke Rintod
SANDAKAN: On the weekend before the Batu Sapi parliamentary by-election, former chief minister Salleh Said reckons the seat is beyond PKR’s grasp.
The state Umno liaison deputy chairman said it would come down to just Barisan Nasional (BN) and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) with the former retaining the seat.
“Yong Teck Lee of SAPP is putting up a good fight here but I think he would lose by big margin if DAP manage to swing the Chinese votes to PKR candidate,” he told FMT at Sandakan airport yesterday.Yong, he said, would put up a good showing in Karamunting state constituency where Chinese voters make up almost the same number as the Muslim bumiputera voters.
Saying he was speaking as an observer, Salleh warned that if Yong could clinch most of the Chinese votes, as some observers here believe, he would indeed be a tougher contender for the Parliamentary seat, previously held by the late Edmund Chong Ket Wah of Parti Bersatu Sabah of BN.
“But if DAP manage to swing Chinese votes to its ally PKR, then BN would win with a big majority,” he added.
Batu Sapi has 25,582 registered voters including 1,535 postal voters. Of the 25,582, about 59% are Muslim bumiputeras, 38% Chinese and only about 3% non-muslim bumiputeras.
Yong, has so far employed a touch-and-go approach with the Chinese voters, indicating his confidence of their quiet support.
The former chief minister goes on early morning walkabouts around the town areas such as to the markets and shop-houses to meet the Chinese voters and shoppers.
The 52-year old Yong, armed with an engaging smile and an attentive ear, shakes hands with people around town, making him quite popular with both the Chinese and the Muslim bumiputeras.
“We are confident the Chinese voters and community are with us but we are not taking things for granted,” a senior SAPP campaigner confided during one of the walkabouts.
The BN-PBS candidate, Linda Tsen, 54, is trailing behind lawyers Yong and PKR’s Ansari Abdullah, in the communication wars with Batu Sapi constituents, as she is not fluent in Malay.
Yong not only speaks fluent Bahasa Malaysia, but has an understanding of local dialects like Suluk and Bajau while Ansari too speaks the Bajau language.
Polling is on next Thursday, November 4, 2010. – FMT