Sabah’s September 2020 State Elections: What Just Happened?


About the Webinar

On 26 September, Sabah will hold its state election. Fending off a defection-triggered power grab by his predecessor Musa Aman, Chief Minister Shafie Apdal dissolved the legislative assembly on 30 July and secured the Governor of Sabah’s consent, paving the way for snap elections just two years into a five-year term.

The event is unexpected, the outcome unpredictable. The incumbents have rallied around Shafie under an improvised Warisan-plus banner, and allocated seats to avoid collisions, but not without tensions along the way. Warisan seeks to ride on its foundation as a state-based party, but whether Warisan-plus can penetrate beyond its strongholds remains to be seen. Among candidates of loosely cobbled Perikatan Nasional, Musa Aman’s absence stands out, but the presence of his relatives reflects his continuing influence, while a slew of independents stand to pull votes from the main contenders. Perikatan is fractured; its candidates will clash in 17 seats, and its campaign sends mixed messages. Nonetheless, Perikatan wields clout as the federal government. On the whole, 447 candidates will vie for 73 state assembly seats, including 13 new seats, in a highly competitive and consequential election.

This webinar will reflect on the results of the freshly concluded polls. Our panel of seasoned Sabah analysts will unpack the wins and losses, the main factors that played out, and the implications of this historic moment. Whether or not a coalition has claimed the mandate by 28 September, whatever happens in Sabah will be of great interest and importance.

About the Speakers

Dr Arnold Puyok is Senior Lecturer in Politics and Government Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS). He has researched and written extensively on electoral politics in Sabah and Sarawak, and the federal-state dynamics of Malaysia.

Dr Anantha Raman Govindasamy is Associate Professor in Politics at the Centre for Promotion of Knowledge and Language Learning, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), and Visiting Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. His research and publications focus on Malaysian and Southeast Asian politics.


This webinar will be delivered online entirely. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.

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For the best experience, please mute your microphone. If you have questions for the speakers, please key in your questions via the Q&A, stating your name and affiliation. The moderator will field them to the speakers during the Q&A session.


Sep 28 2020


10:00 am - 11:30 am