Despite the political mayhem in Sabah, it is possible that Barisan Nasional (BN) will again win big in the state in the coming general election.
In fact, BN could win all 25 parliamentary seats and all the 60 state assembly seats as well as the sole MP seat in Labuan.
Mind you, in the last general election in 2008, Sabah BN lost only two seats – the Kota Kinabalu parliamentary seat and the state seat in Sri Tanjung .
Both seats went to DAP. This time though, it is possible that DAP will lose both seats to BN.
But DAP will disagree with me. It will insist that it can retain Kota Kinabalu and Sri Tanjung.
Its leaders will also tell you that they will win the Sandakan parliamentary seat and in a few other state constituencies where there are Chinese majorities. This should add up to about eight constituencies.
And that means state-based opposition Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), which is staking claims to these Chinese seats too, will be left empty-handed.
These are the possibilities in Sabah.
And what about the Sabah chapter of the State Reform Party (STAR) that boasts 160,000 members?
Political pundits here are claiming that STAR has a good chance of winning a few Kadazandusun seats. They are saying that it could be four MP seats and eight state seats.
But if you ask the STAR leaders, they’ll tell you that winning a simple majority of 31 (out of 60) and up to 10 MP seats is possible.
That would mean BN component parties like Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Upko could lose scores of their seats to STAR.
Musa may lose seat
It is possible that the Kadazandusuns are shifting away from PBS and Upko, not so much because they love less both parties and leaders but more because they hate Umno hegemony in the state.
Another possibility is that Chief Minister Musa Aman may also lose his Sungai Sibuga state seat.
Not because of the exposure of allegedly illegal international money transactions but because some folk within Sabah Umno want to see the end to the Musa’s reign.
They want Shafie Apdal – an Umno vice-president – to assume his position.
Bearing this in mind, it is possible that Shafie may trade his current Semporna MP seat for a state constituency in the east-coast belt, thus paving the way for him to rise to the role of Sabah chief minister.
If you’re thinking that Musa cannot lose in his constituency, think again.
Remember former chief minister Harris Salleh? Well, he was trounced by a virtually unknown named Kadoh Agundong, who was a member of a fledgling three-week-old Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) in Tenom in 1985.
Meanwhile, the list of possible “Goliaths” in the coming election includes PBS president Joseph Pairin Kitingan, Upko president Bernard Dompok, SAPP president Yong Teck Lee, LDP president VK Liew and even STAR Sabah chairman, Jeffrey Kitingan.
All these heavyweights could lose to the young “Davids” in the coming national polls.
Jeffrey has chalked up many losses in recent times. He is currently working to dethrone his elder brother Pairin in Tambunan and Keningau.
Dompok himself has lost before in Penampang and Liew is facing a precarious situation in Sandakan.
Yong recently finished a poor third in the Batu Sapi by-election, well behind the relatively unknown Linda Tsen from BN-PBS. In fact, Yong did worse than PKR’s Ansari Abdullah in the Batu Sapi polls.
In 2008, the initial votes tally showed that former magistrate Shanty Chong (DAP) had won the seat. But following objections, Liew was later declared the winner under suspicious circumstances.
BN may re-field Bumburing, Lajim
Chong took her case to court but, for some unknown reason, dropped it and Liew went on to be appointed as Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister.
And there’s also talk of Upko deputy president Wilfred Bumburing and Umno westcoast warlord Lajim Ukin threatening to quit their respective parties.
Talk has been going on for ages that the duo will join PKR but thus far nothing has materialised.
Suffice to note that BN chairman Najib Tun Razak and Musa would do whatever possible to prevent them from defecting not because these two are indispensable but more so out of fear that their move would trigger a mass exodus from Umno, PBS, and Upko.
Having said this, I believe there is a possibility that Bumburing and Lajim would be retained by BN as candidates, after all.
It is quite possible for Lajim to win handsomely at least in his Klias state seat which he once held before becoming Beaufort MP.
The same possibility applies to Bumburing in Tamparuli or even in Tuaran where Ansari has contested and lost many times.
There is also talk that some in Upko are encouraging potential leaders to come out and stand as candidates, especially in areas its BN colleague PBS is currently representing.
That explains the sudden appearances of familiar names like Osu Sukam, Ghapur Salleh, Maijol Mahap, Tan Yong Gee, Mokhtar Radin, Steven Kutai and even Dr Ibrahim Menudin of Labuan. All of them could join Lajim and Bumburing in the opposition.
Backstabbing is very much a part and parcel of Sabah politics and the 13th general election is seeing even the BN grassroots members wanting a change of their respective “Yang Berhormats”.
This being the case, it is possible that Bumburing may not want to re-contest the Tuaran MP seat, as some claim he has an understanding with his immediate predecessor Wilfred Madius Tangau.
The Tamparuli state seat is currently held by PBS’ Jahid Jahim, a Muslim representing a Christian majority area.
Meanwhile Tan, a former Labuk assemblyman, could be aiming to return to his seat which is now held by PBS vice-president Michael Asang.
Lawyer Maijol could possibly be the best bet to take on PBS deputy president Maximus Ongkili in Kota Marudu.
They have duelled at least twice before for the seat and Maijol, who is now a senator, lost only by a slim margin.
None of the STAR leaders in poverty-stricken Kota Marudu seems able to take the mantle of leadership from Ongkili.
Kutai from Inanam is also its former assemblyman but has been since succeeded by PBS Johny Goh.
In the 2008 general election, Inanam saw a huge combined opposition votes of around 7,000 while Goh, the eventual winner, only managed to get over 5,000 votes.
His rival, Daniel John Jambun of PKR, bagged more than 4,000 votes while a lesser known DAP candidate managed to get over 2,000 votes.
Had the opposition fielded one candidate then, it would have won Inanam.
Opposition is more split
The opposition in Sabah appears even more split now than in the last election.
At least in 2008, there was no STAR as Jeffrey was still in PKR then.
That is why I said BN could win big again in Sabah. Those hoping for change are pragmatic about the possibilities.
There is still time for the opposition parties already in Sabah to hammer out their differences and consolidate their position against the entrenched BN.
There is also a possibility that one or two of opposition parties in Sabah could be working hand-in-hand with the establishment to ensure that the Umno-led BN rules for another five years.