SANDAKAN, Sabah: The Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition has ended its recent losing streak with a comfortable victory in the Sandakan by-election.
Democratic Action Party candidate Vivian Wong won by a majority of 11,521 votes after securing 16,012 votes in the polls, the Election Commission announced on Saturday night (May 11).
Her closest competitor, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) candidate Linda Tsen, garnered 4,491 votes.
Besides the two frontrunners, the seat was also contested by three independent candidates. Former Sabah Parti Amanah Negara chairman Hamzah Abdullah won 788 votes, businessman Chia Siew Yung got 178 votes, while former political worker Sulaiman Abdul Samat garnered 126 votes.
The result came as a relief to PH after a string of recent defeats in the Cameron Highlands, Semenyih and Rantau by-elections.
Thanking her supporters, Ms Wong said: "This victory is not just for me but the people of Sandakan. Thank you for your support for DAP and Pakatan Harapan."
"I will aim not to disappoint you and work as hard as I can to serve you," added the 30-year-old.
In a statement to media, PBS president Maximus Ongkili congratulated Ms Wong on her victory and vowed that the party will continue to fight for voters in the constituency.
“The voters have chosen and we respect the decision of the voters. We hope DAP will honour all the promises they made to the people," said Dr Ongkili.
“We thank the Sandakan people who voted for our PBS candidate Datuk Linda Tsen Thau Lin and express gratefulness to our opposition colleagues who shared our struggle and assisted us in the by-election. PBS put up a good fight, but in the end, we could not overcome the might we were facing," he added.
SANDAKAN WIN A "SHARP TURNAROUND" FOR PH
Speaking to supporters on Saturday night, DAP's secretary-general Lim Guan Eng thanked voters for helping Ms Wong to a "historic victory".
"This victory is not just for Sandakan, but the whole of Malaysia. It shows that Pakatan Harapan still has strong support throughout the whole country," said Mr Lim, who is also Malaysia's finance minister.
He told media later that the win was a perfect birthday present to commemorate the coalition's one year anniversary since its historic victory in the 14th general election.
"It shows that people still have confidence in Pakatan Harapan's ability to govern Malaysia," said Mr Lim.
DAP's veteran leader Lim Kit Siang said the result marked a "sharp turnaround" in the public's support for the PH government.
The Sandakan by-election was called after Ms Wong's father, Stephen, died suddenly from a heart attack in March.
Mr Wong had won the seat by more than a 10,000 majority during Malaysia's general election a year ago.
The Sandakan constituency has around 40,000 registered voters.
According to the electoral rolls, 51 per cent of the voters in Sandakan are Chinese, 45 per cent from Muslim bumiputera groups, and the remaining 4 per cent from other ethnic groups.
The EC announced that the turnout for the by-election on Saturday was around 55 per cent, considerably less than the 70 per cent total during last year's polls.