KOTA KINABALU: The newly-announced Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for Balung, Osman Jamal, has vowed to win the hearts of the Tawau Umno members who held a peaceful demonstration protesting his candidacy.
“Lots of people are against me, saying that I am a parachute candidate. I cannot say I am sad about it. I only feel I need to do something so they can have confidence in me,” he said in Tawau today.
Osman will be replacing incumbent Syed Abas Syed Ali, 71, who won the seat in the 2013 election, with a 5,569-vote majority.
Those from the Tawau Umno division, who protested Osman’s candidacy, have warned the state party leadership that it cannot guarantee a win for Osman in the 14th general election (GE14) as he is an outsider in the state seat of Balung.
Tawau Umno Youth chief Ariffin Kassim, who led yesterday’s protest, said the state BN’s decision will also affect the other state seats in Tawau although he promised that he would personally continue to vote BN.
According to the protesters, Osman has done nothing for Balung and the party should choose someone from among Tawau Umno division members who have contributed to the people in the area.
Denying this allegation, Osman said in fact, when he was appointed the general manager for the Sabah Land Development Board (SLDB) in 2001, he was responsible for the rehabilitation of all oil palm facilities in Balung.
“I have also managed to cancel all the debts of the settlers here. That should merit a mention.
“Also, when SLDB was going to be replaced by Borneo Samudera, I fought the plan for the sake of the settlers.
“As a result, all settlers were given the proper attention. So, I don’t know why people say I never contributed anything to Balung,” he said.
Osman said he is also disappointed that the term “parachute candidate” is used to describe him.
“BN members should be more open to accepting whoever the party’s top leadership decides to nominate as candidate,” he said.
He added that he had never dreamt of being named the candidate for Balung as he had always believed, if he were to be nominated, it would be in the Kalabakan federal constituency because he was born there.
However, now that he had been named as the candidate for Balung, Osman believed no other task was more urgent than rallying support from BN party members.
“My job now is to convince them and to persuade them to accept this decision. If we believe this is our party, then we must accept any decision made by our leaders,” he said.
Osman, who served as the state Land and Survey Department director for more than 13 years, said he will first get to know all the Tawau Umno committee members in Balung and understand the problems they face.
“If it is personal, I am confident we can address them. I am sure those involved in the demonstration can be convinced to back BN. I want to see them all and tell them that I am their friend,” he said.