PBS to stay out of Kimanis race

PBS president Maximus Ongkili (2nd right) after meeting top party leaders in Kota Kinabalu today.

PENAMPANG: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) will not field a candidate in the upcoming Kimanis by-election, in a decision which could likely pave the way for a straight fight between Warisan and Sabah Umno.

PBS president Maximus Ongkili said the decision was reached after studying voter sentiments in the federal constituency.

But Maximus said the party would only support the opposition if it has a commitment to fight for Sabah’s rights.

“The candidate must oppose policies and programmes that compromise the security of Sabah and threaten the citizenship rights of native Sabahans,” he said after chairing a PBS supreme council meeting today.

PBS has over 3,000 members spread across 60 branches in Bongawan and Membakut within Kimanis.

There are 29,644 voters in Kimanis, comprising 42% Muslim Bumiputeras, 41% non-Muslim Bumiputeras and 6% Chinese.

PBS and Sabah Umno had been in discussions about the possibility of fielding a single candidate.

In announcing former Bongawan rep Mohd Alamin as Sabah Umno’s candidate in the by-election, its president Bung Mokthar Radin had noted that PBS would stay out of the race.

Nomination day for the Kimanis by-election is on Jan 4 and polling day is on Jan 18.

On Dec 25, Ongkili said PBS was considering fielding a candidate in Kimanis as it had ground support and that they were assessing the situation.

The Kota Marudu MP said there were about 6,000 to 8,000 people in Kimanis who were not committed to Umno or Warisan-Pakatan Harapan.

Ongkili said PBS would also support the candidate who was against the federal government’s implementation of the Temporary Sabah Pass (PSS).

“To us in PBS, the PSS is an ultimate threat to our citizenship rights and a form of formalising the illegal immigrants to live permanently in Sabah, and subsequently granting them citizenship which would be detrimental to Sabahans’ livelihood,” he said.

Ongkili said PBS would publicly express its political support to the right candidate after the nomination day.

He said PBS would begin mobilising its election machinery on Monday, adding that the party would be the kingmaker as it had over 3,000 active members in Kimanis.

When asked if Alamin met the party’s criteria, Ongkili said the Sabah Umno candidate’s views on illegal immigrants and state rights when he was the Bongawan rep were not in line with the PBS’ criteria.

“But clearly we will supoort any party or individual who opposed the present Warisan-led state government,” he said.

When asked about Sabah-Umno’s cooperation with PAS under the Muafakat Nasional, Ongkili said it was too early to be part of the partnership.

“A lot of policies need improvement, but the idea of Muafakat Nasional, we will take our time to decide on this,” he said.