KOTA KINABALU: Gabungan Sabah, the main state-based opposition coalition, has a bright chance of capturing the state government although probably not with a two-thirds majority, said Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah president Lajim Ukin.
Nevertheless, he said, its optimism should give the other opposition parties something to ponder.
“We need maybe 40 seats to secure our position. But if Gabungan manages to win 25 seats, then what will the other opposition parties do?
“Will they choose to side with us or with BN (Barisan Nasional) and allow the current government to continue?” he told FMT.
Lajim, who is also Klias assemblyman, believed Gabungan holds the key to who eventually will form the federal government after the general election due before August.
For example, he said, if BN and the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) won an identical number of seats, Gabungan’s seats would certainly come in handy to the opposition’s cause.
Therefore, he said, it was better for the opposition pact and other opposition parties to help one another.
He said the majority of voters in Sabah wanted local-based parties to represent them as regionalism has gained support, as proven in neighbouring Sarawak.
Gabungan Sabah brings together four Sabah-based parties — Solidariti Tanah Airku (Star), Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah (PPRS) and Lajim’s Harapan Rakyat.
The alliance is chaired by former Sabah finance minister Mohd Noor Mansor.
One founding member of the alliance, Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS), pulled out in April to promote a grand alliance of all opposition parties, including PH.
Another local opposition party, Parti Warisan Sabah, opted to go on its own in the election, much to the chagrin of Gabungan leaders.
Harapan Rakyat had earlier stated that the party would be contesting in no less than 28 state and 14 parliamentary seats in the general election while SAPP’s president and former chief minister Yong Teck Lee announced that his party expected to stand in 13 to 15 state seats.
There are 60 state and 25 parliamentary seats in Sabah. The state assembly had approved an additional 13 new state constituencies but they have yet to be endorsed by Parliament.
Lajim advised Muslim voters in the state not to fear changes or fall for the lies cooked up by certain quarters who said non-Muslims would dominate the country if BN failed to win the election.
“In Gabungan, we have many Muslim leaders. I heard some people said that if Gabungan won, Muslims will lose but those are all lies.
“Islam’s position in the state and in the country is clear. So, why should Muslims have this fear?
“At the same time, the non-Muslims should not be worried either. We in Sabah have practised 1Sabah long before 1Malaysia came along.
“Even before Malaysia was formed, our people have always been tolerant and respectful of one another,” he said.
Lajim, who is also a former Sabah deputy chief minister, said politicians and their followers should stop playing up religious and racial issues to win votes.
He vowed that if the people chose to give Gabungan the chance to form the government, the leaders will be fair to all races because the coalition is made up of leaders from all races and religions.
Citing a Quranic verse, Lajim said Sabahans are always free to practise their religions and he is deeply concerned about the continuous attempts, from both sides of the political divide, to play up the issue.
“Not one religion teaches its faithful to be bad. Each has its own guidelines, holy books … so why are we so preoccupied with this?
“Such a thing (possible religious persecution) will never happen in Malaysia,” he said.