In seat tussle, Sabah Umno raises the bar on PPBM

Hajiji Noor says PPBM has eyes on 45 seats, but Ghazalie Ansing says Sabah Umno may want more than 38.

KOTA KINABALU: Skirmishing over Sabah election seats has begun between Perikatan Nasional partners with Sabah Umno sounding a warning to PPBM that it had autonomy over election allies, and may want to contest more than 38 seats

PPBM had said earlier that the party intends to contest in 45 seats.

In response, Sabah Umno communications director Ghazalie Ansing said his party remained committed to contesting in all the seats that were won at previous general elections. Further, Sabah Umno was also eyeing several more seats that could potentially be won.

“Sabah Umno chief (Bung Mokhtar Radin) has also stated that he will contest at least 38 seats in the state election. We are ready to negotiate with any party but this condition is the ‘baseline’ for the negotiation as given to Sabah Umno,” he said when contacted by FMT.

Ghazalie said Sabah Umno also had “autonomy to choose any party as an electoral partner”.

He hoped that PPBM would not be “too hasty” in deciding on contesting 45 state seats “because they have not yet proven their strength in any by-election in Sabah”.

Sabah PPBM chairman Hajiji Noor said earlier today that the party would put up capable candidates, who have good credibility and potential to win in their respective seats.

He said PPBM is prepared to discuss cooperation with PN partners Umno and Barisan Nasional.

The Sabah state assembly was dissolved on Thursday, paving the way for a state general election, which must be held before Sept 29. There are 73 seats in the new state assembly, with 13 new seats in Bengkoka, Bandau, Pintasan, Pantai Dalit, Darau, Tanjung Keramat, Limbahau, Tulid, Telupid, Sungai Manila, Lamag, Segama and Kukusan.

At the 2018 general election, Umno won 17 seats, but was left with only Sungai Sibuga, held by Musa Aman, after 16 assemblymen quit the party to join Warisan and PPBM.

Last week, Musa announced that he had obtained the support of enough assembly members for a simple majority to form the state government. However, the Yang di-Pertua Negeri agreed to dissolve the state assembly, on the request of Chief Minister Shafie Apdal.