PRU 14(2018): Sabah DUN Forecast

Sabah is of particular interest during this  14th general election after the recent  sacking of Shapie Afdal from UMNO and the Federal Cabinet when  he  aligned  himself with the former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohammed. Shapie later formed a new political party WARISAN based in Sabah which is now growing into probably the most formidable force among the opposition parties in the state.

Party WARISAN is not formally aligned with the national  Pakatan Harapan under Tun Mahathir, although  he can hardly hide  his close association with him prior to his fall out with Najib, the current Prime Minister of Malaysia. He likes to portray himself as the champion of Sabahan rights, but this special association appears to complicate his position in the eyes of Sabahans. Tun Mahathir is well known to Sabahans for his past extreme policies and actions than angered them when he was still the Prime Minister more than twenty years ago.

In spite of the above, Shapie who is an articulate speaker, managed to arouse sentiments of fellow Sabahans when issues of infringements of Sabah rights take centre stage in this general election. How far these sentiments could help him in his efforts to unseat the current BN state government will not be known until the 9th of this month after all the votes have been counted.

On the surface BN position in Sabah looks solid. It owns  22 of the 25 Parliamentary seats and 48 of the 60 DUN or the state assembly seats after the 13th General Election in 2013.

The voters in Sabah comprises three  major racial groups as shown below:

Racial Group                  number of voters (14th GE)       percentage

Bumiputera Muslim                      617,037                                           55.65%
Bumiputera Non Muslim             325,840                                          29.39%
Chinese                                            165,887                                           14.96%
Total                                              1,108,765                                       100.00% 

The  Bumiputera Muslims form the backbone of BN strength in Sabah. My regression analysis indicates that  76.42% of them voted for BN in the 2013 General Election, compared with 33.6% of the non muslim Bumiputera and 22.8% of the Chinese voters. BN however managed to get disproportionate number of seats due to   votes splits among the opposition group, as a result of three or multi cornered fights which are common in the Sabah scenario.

Will Shapie manage to cause a Tsunami among the voters, in particular the Bumiptera Muslims. Most views, except for  the  hardcore opposition  analysts, do not believe that it can happen in this election. However, BN just cannot take things for granted. In Sabah anything can happen as people can suddenly change their voting preferance enmass as happened a few decades ago when Joseph Pairin Kitingan’s PBS Party  defeated the reigning Berjaya government under Harris Salleh. My own empirical analysis of past election data also confirm  there is no statistically significant party loyalty among the Sabah voters.

However, I do not think the above extreme scenario can happen in this election because the opposition leadership do not actually hold moral advantage over the BN government. It is hard to believe that Shapie Afdal who is closely associated with Tun Mahathir, the arch enemy of most Sabahans, is so clean or will  fight for Sabah  rights as Pairin once did  in his younger days.

Probably party WARISAN would be able to make a dent, say chipping away 7-15% Bumi muslim votes from BN and another 7%  from Bumi non Muslim voters away from the baseline data obtained in the 13th GE. If this occurs,  the BN state government will survive the current onslaught. The seat forecast will now appear as follows:

Political Party                                    DUN  Seats to win in GE 14

                                                             BN MINIMUM        BN MAXIMUM

Barisan Nasional                                          36                                41

Opposition Parties                                       24                                19

BarisanNasional will again manage to obtain disproportionate  number of seats because of three or multiple cornered fights in all constituencies.


Salam, wallahu a’lam








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