Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) deputy president Maximus Ongkili is of the opinion that the Kota Marudu parliamentary seat as well as the Tandek and Matunggong state seats will remain the ruling coalition’s strongholds after the 13th general election.
But people in these constituencies appear to be showing signs to the contrary.
According to a PKR leader in Kota Marudu, villagers in this northern region of Sabah are protesting silently against Barisan Nasional (BN).
They are not engaged in any street protests and they are not demonstration or voicing openly their displeasure to the state and federal government.
“(But) they fly the BN flag upside down,” said Anthony Mandiau.
Mandiau and several party leaders were in the Kampung Minikodong longhouse in Kota Marudu earlier this week to distribute assistance to fire victims when they were greeted with the sight of the `Dacing’ (Barisan Nasional’s symbol) being deliberately flown upside down.
He said the people who were BN supporters told him that putting up the flag the wrong way was a ‘more powerful’ message to the government than organising street demonstrations or `bad mouthing’ government leaders.
“Ongkili says the three seats are safe with Barisan Nasional but the people’s support are already moving towards the opposition.
“They are showing this by putting up the BN flag upside down,” Mandiau told FMT recently.
Ongkili, who is the MP for Kota Marudu as well as federal Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, had told PBS members in Tandek over the weekend that the ruling coalition would have no problem in retaining Kota Marudu and the two state seats – Tandek and Motunggung – in the 13th general election.
He also announced that should he be chosen to defend and win his seat, it will be his last term and that he would make way for a younger and more capable local leader to take over.
Ongkili however added that he will continue to serve the people in other capacities such as a mentor and advisor.
Increasing support for PKR
Meanwhile, Mandiau said Kota Marudu PKR is ready to face the election with support from the people gaining momentum every day. Since the 2008 general election, the party had been preparing for election.
“Gatherings organised in villages are well attended by the people, not only party supporters but also Barisan Nasional component party members,” he said.
Mandiau is no newcomer to Kota Marudu. He is a local boy.
In the 12th general election in 2008, Mandiau contested on PKR ticket lost. He polled 7,820 votes against Ongkili’s 12,028 votes.
In the four-cornered fight, the other two candidates – Roslan Zain (Independent) and Berman Angkap from Bersekutu party – garnered 1,109 and 457 votes respectively.
Mandiau is prepared to face Ongkili again if nominated by PKR.
But he acknowledged that it would be an uphill task to unseat Ongkili given the might of the BN machinery.
Nonetheless, he is optimistic that having worked hard among the constituents since the last election, the people would support and pave his way to parliament this time around.
Mandiau said although Ongkili claimed Kota Marudu, Tandek and Motunggung as the national coalition strongholds, the scenario is bound to change in the 13th general elections.