The political landscape of Tambunan is expected to remain unchanged after polling day. Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan is expected to retain the State seat even though he is facing stiff challenge from Moses Michael Iking, 57,of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). The 67-year-old Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) leader is also challenged by independent candidate Francis Koh Kui Tze, 51. Pairin, who is the Deputy Chief Minister, has never lost the Tambunan seat since the 1976 general election. The people in Tambunan who are mostly Kadazandusun farmers, are still looking up to Pairin to resolve the problems in their area. In terms of issues, there are no big ones in the constituency. The opposition is only questioning Pairin’s ability to continue to serve in Tambunan. However, the Huguan Siou or paramount leader of the KDM described the opposition allegation that he is old and needed to rest as normal. Since contesting the Tambunan constituency in 1976, Pairin’s vote majority has been over 3,000. The highest majority he received was 5,277 when he contested in the 1990 State election and 1994 with a 5,696 majority. In the 2004 general election, he won with a 3,280 majority. During the Tambunan by- election in 1984, Pairin contesting as an independent, secured a 3,084 majority. And in the 1985 and 1986 general election, he obtained a majority of 3,487 and 4,253 respectively. When met in Tambunan on Tuesday, Pairin said the BN derived its strength from the strong support of the people and cooperation from all the BN components. “All the components are united in assisting the BN candidates contesting in Tambunan, Bingkor and Liawan, including the keningau parliamentary seat. I believe with this cooperation, the BN could win,” he said. On the illegal immigrants issue brought up by the opposition, he said solution to the problem was included in the BN manifesto. When asked why he is contesting two seats (Tambunan and Keningau ), Pairin gave two strong reasons. “The Federal Government (Parliament) is my channel to forward all the interest and problems of the people that I represent. ‘As a Member of Parliament, I can voice and bring up the people’s problems from area in the Parliament. And I also don’t want the interior people’s relationship with the Federal Government to be disrupted,” he pointed out. Secondly by contesting the Tambunan state seat, he can continue to protect the rights, welfare and interest of the KDM community from his area in the State Legislative Assembly. On the decision of his brother, Jeffrey, to contest against him in Keningau, Pairin said he was not surprised at all because in a democratic country, anybody could do so. Meanwhile, a political observer in Tambunan said Pairin’s credibility would help him to secure strong support from the voters on March 8. “The people power will not happen in this election because the people are still confident of the BN leadership, especially with the launching of the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) which could benefit the rural people,” said the observer. On the Tambunan Declaration launched by PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim last year at TVRC Tambunan, the observer described it as political gimmick which has a hidden agenda among the PKR leaders. “I believe the 1985 incident will not repeat in the 2008 election. It happened in 2004 when Jeffrey contesting as an independent in Sook lost to his traditional enemy, PBRS President Tan Sri Joseph Kurup,” he said. The observer also commented that many senior PKR leaders had quit the party after the nomination day because they lost confidence on the PKR leadership. Their action will contribute to the opposition party’s defeat in this election, he added.