In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?

Barack Obama, 44th president of USA

Democracy in action — that is what an election is all about.

Sabah is in the midst of an intense snap electoral campaign that will culminate on September 26 — their polling day.

A total of 1,124,598 eligible voters will select 73 elected representatives, thereby ushering in their 16th State Legislative Assembly.

This election was called well before its time, due to a political crisis.

Tan Sri Musa Aman, the leader of the state Perikatan Nasional (PN) having enticed several members of the state legislative assembly from Pakatan Harapan claimed he had the majority to form the government.

Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal the Chief Minister who is also the leader of the Sabah Heritage Party (Warisan) coalition government outmanoeuvred him by calling for snap polls.

Sabah Governor Tun Juhar Mahiruddin upon the request of the chief minister made the decision to dissolve the state assembly.

Several legal challenges were mounted to thwart the election but to no avail.

The key battle for power is between a coalition of the Warisan, DAP, PKR, UpkMo and Amanah on the one hand.

The other being Gabungan Rakyat Sabah composed of Umno, PBS, STAR, MCA, PBRS, SAPP and Bersatu.

There are numerous other parties involved. It is indeed an arduous task of keeping track of Sabah political parties and the affiliations of the politicians there.

There are a total of 16 political parties (not counting possible independent alliances) with 447 candidates and 56 of them are independents with many seats facing multi-cornered fights.

Warisan Plus is placing heavy emphasis on the unity theme and the acceptance of a multicultural society. 

One of their taglines “We are here to build a nation, not a particular race or religion,” appears to have captured the imagination of some people and is even widely circulated here in Sarawak. 

Other achievements such as the issuance of land grants, attracting international investments, emphasis on education, new job opportunities and improving government services in a short period are being highlighted by Warisan,

Gabungan Rakyat Sabah on the other hand seems to be placing most of their bets on the popularity of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

But there is some disarray in the GRS camp as Bersatu, Umno and PBS are all advocating their own choice of chief minister, thereby showing lack of leadership.

In addition to this, the recent allegation that Shafie Apdal is an illegal immigrant would most likely backfire on those alleging it.

There is also a strong resentment against party-hopping that will adversely affect some parties.

To date, based on the social media comments from individuals and reports from political pundits, Warisan Plus seems to be leading the pack

I would venture to say that in the ‘land below the wind’ a very strong wind is behind the sails Warisan Plus.  

In five days when the results are declared the Sabah elections will have a strong impact on the federal PN government.

There are already murmurings of a parliamentary election being possibly called soon in the event of a poor showing by GRS. 

The outcome of the Sabah elections will probably not have a direct impact here in Sarawak although we too have been on high alert to get ready for polls soon.

It is speculated that snap polls will be called just after the state budget and national budget are presented and the time being bandied around is November 2020.

Speculation is rife that together with the 12th Sarawak state election, parliamentary elections too might be held.  

At home here too there are many aspiring coalitions and parties such as GPS, Gasak and PBS with a probability of at least three-cornered contests in all the 82 seats.

Among all contending parties, GPS looks to be on firmer footing as it has under the current leadership been able to articulate many new initiatives ranging from rural development to digital infrastructure and investing in the community, religious and educational initiatives to incremental gains in Sarawak rights,  

The GPS government’s approach of sikit sikit jadi bukit approach to Sarawak rights is paying dividends as they have just received their much-awaited SST payments from Petronas.

GPS has more or less been able to align itself to the needs and desires of the people and the communities.

Whatever your decision is as a voter in Sarawak, ultimately it is important to place emphasis on unity, peace and commitment towards delivering election pledges.

Ultimately, in the words of Kishore Mahbubani, a Singaporean civil servant, career diplomat, academic and former Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, the secret formula of a nation’s sustainable success is meritocracy, pragmatism and honesty. 

Implementing such practices will indeed see Sarawak among an elite league of nations.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.