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Friday, June 23, 2017

Rift in Sabah opposition as DAP declare seats to contest

Warisan wants opposition parties to focus on ousting BN first, while Sabah DAP prefers to state their intentions, saying seat negotiations moving too slowly.
Azis-Jamman-dapPETALING JAYA: Parti Warisan Sabah says it hopes that all opposition parties in the state can focus on the common enemy and avoid declaring their claim to seats before negotiations on seat allocations for the next general election (GE14) can even take place.
Warisan Youth chief Mohd Azis Jamman told FMT the party was “caught off guard” by Sabah DAP secretary Chan Foong Hin’s recent announcement about wanting to contest the Tanjung Aru and Darau state seats and focus on four parliamentary areas namely Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Putatan and Sepanggar.
In the last general election (GE13), PAS contested the Tanjung Aru seat on behalf of the then-Pakatan Rakyat coalition, which also included DAP, while the Darau seat is a new seat in the Sepanggar parliamentary constituency.
DAP currently holds the Kota Kinabalu parliamentary seat, and in the last general election contested the Putatan and Sepanggar seats.
The Penampang parliamentary seat is held by Warisan deputy president Darell Leiking who won the seat on a PKR ticket.
“We respect the right of all parties to contest any seat, but we were under the impression that Pakatan Harapan was striving for straight fights.
“We are also surprised at this announcement after Sabah DAP chairman Stephen Wong had said his party was ‘very keen’ to negotiate an electoral pact with Warisan and had even proposed a methodological approach to working together,” Azis said.
FMT had recently reported Wong as saying that it was important for opposition parties to work together to find the most winnable candidates. He added that opinion polls could be held to determine which opposition party had the best chance of winning in a certain area.
Aziz said there was no rush to announce seats and candidates and that the focus now should be on communicating the need to reject Barisan Nasional (BN) at the polls.
“There are many issues which we must focus on, such as GST, tourism tax, state rights, oil royalties and more.
“It’s more important that, as opposition parties, we make people understand why BN should go, rather than jostling for seats.
“The time will come for us to negotiate on seat allocations and we do want that because multi-cornered fights will only benefit BN. The biggest losers won’t even be Warisan or DAP, it’ll be the voters,” he said.
Aziz also supported Wong’s “opinion poll” strategy as he believes nothing would speak better than the voices of the grassroots.
“I’m not sure if the DAP national leadership gave their approval to Sabah DAP to declare seats, but to us it doesn’t matter. What’s important to us is avoiding multi-cornered fights.”
Previously, Sabah DAP had announced that it would be vying for the Keningau and Pensiangan parliamentary seats and also supported the motion by DAP members to contest the Sook and Tulid state seats.
DAP also recruited Sabahan youth activist Jufazli Shi Ahmad, who has said he will take on Chief Minister Musa Aman in the latter’s stronghold of Sibuga, Sandakan.
Aziz said he only hoped that DAP and all other opposition parties in the state would refrain from making announcements which could affect efforts to work together.
The need to move fast
Meanwhile, Wong said although DAP had announced it was eyeing the Tanjung Aru and Darau state seats, as well as the Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Putatan and Sepanggar parliamentary seats, this was subject to “final negotiations”.
“The DAP national leadership will follow what we decide as they have given us the autonomy.
“We announced our intentions (to stand in certain areas) because negotiations with other parties is going slow, and GE14 is getting closer, so we need to prepare our machinery,” he said.
He added that local parties including Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Sabah STAR), Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) and Warisan were showing interest in working together with Pakatan Harapan.
Wong said where Pakatan Harapan in Sabah is concerned, the three original component parties, DAP, PKR and Amanah, have all agreed to a basic consensus.
According to that consensus, each party will defend the seats they won in the last election. Additionally, the party which contested and lost in an area in the last election, be it DAP or PKR, will be given priority to contest again in GE14.
“In seats where PKR or DAP didn’t stand or where candidates from NGOs contested, these seats will be discussed.”
Wong said Pakatan Harapan parties may swap seats closer to the election date.
“If local parties want to join us to topple BN, we will discuss but we won’t make way for seats which we have won,” he said.
He said this included the Likas state seat, currently held by Warisan vice-president Junz Wong who won the seat on a DAP ticket in GE13.
“We hope all local parties will engage with us. We have to act fast because the people are eager and restless. They want to see confirmation that there will be a united opposition.
“We have to move fast because the election can be held soon, so we need to place resources and develop the machineries in areas where we will stand.”
In GE13, DAP snared two parliamentary seats and four state assembly seats in Sabah, while PKR won seven state seats.
GE14 must be held by Aug 24, 2018.
In Sabah, aside from BN, Warisan and Pakatan Harapan, the other political force in the state is the United Sabah Alliance, a coalition comprising Sabah STAR led by Jeffrey Kitingan, Sabah Progressive Party led by Yong Teck Lee, Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah led by Lajim Ukin and Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah (PPRS) led by Arshad Abdul Mualap. -FMT

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