POLITICAL analysts do not see DAP having any problem retaining the Sandakan parliamentary seat in the upcoming by-election but deem it a loss for the party if its candidate wins with only a slim majority.
The by-election sees a five-cornered fight but the focus is on two candidates: DAP’s Vivian Wong Shir Yee and Datuk Linda Tsen Thau Lin of PBS.
Wong, 30, is the youngest daughter of late MP Stephen Wong Tien Fatt, whose death in March necessitated the by-election, and Tsen, 63, is a PBS vice-president and was a two-term MP for the neighbouring Batu Sapi constituency.
Universiti Malaya Associate Professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi told Oriental Daily News in an interview published today that given the strong support Pakatan Harapan (PH) still enjoys among the Chinese who make up more than 50% of the electorate, Wong stands a better chance of winning the fight.
However, he pointed out, the challenge mounted by Tsen, a political old hand with a respectable support base, cannot be taken lightly.
“Tsen is a strong contender and PH is not taking a win for granted,“ said Awang Azman.
He also noted PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s scheduled visit to Sandakan this week to lend support to DAP to ensure a thumbing victory for PH.
It will be a blow to DAP should PH retain the seat with only a small majority.
Political commentator Tang Ah Chai told Oriental Daily that DAP has the upper hand and all eyes are on the majority votes.
He explained that in general, by-elections tend to favour the opposition more “and so it would be normal if DAP’s majority is reduced slightly in the upcoming polls”.
However, if PBS manages to narrow the gap to a thin margin, it indicates the support for PH is waning in East Malaysia.