KOTA KINABALU,Nov 27: Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Bung Moktar Radin has opted not to get into a wrangle over the issue of seat allocations among political partners in the state for the next general election, for now.
Bung, who is also the Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) chief, had previously said Umno will defend all its 14 traditional MP seats in the event a snap election is called, including those now held by its allies.
Speaking to FMT, the Kinabatangan MP has, however, taken the diplomatic route, saying BN will discuss with other Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) parties for a “win-win situation” over seat distribution.
“We are only part of the bigger BN coalition throughout the country and we will leave it to the leadership to decide on this matter (seat allocation),” he said.
Bung was commenting on BN secretary-general Annuar Musa’s recent remarks that Umno needed to think about its chances of winning before asking PAS and PPBM to give way to the party for more seats in GE15.
Annuar acknowledged that Umno deserved to contest more seats, considering the number of elected representatives it currently has compared with PAS and PPBM, but cited the Sabah election as a point of reflection.
“Umno has to ask itself, don’t just think about wanting many seats, but can we win so many? In Sabah, we wanted a lot, people gave us a lot, but in the end, we didn’t win a lot. What’s important is that we win many seats,” he said.
Sabah BN Youth chief Abdul Aziz Julkarnain, on the other hand, is adamant that the basis of negotiations for Umno with other GRS parties is for the party to retain the same 14 seats – out of the 25 Sabah parliamentary seats – it had contested since 2004.
The constituencies are Kudat, Kota Belud, Sepanggar, Papar, Kimanis, Beaufort, Sipitang, Tenom, Beluran, Kinabatangan, Silam, Libaran, Semporna and Kalabakan.
Sabah Umno lost Kota Belud, Sepanggar, Papar, Tenom, Silam, Semporna and Kalabakan to rival parties in GE14. However, five of the seats it won are now in the hands of Sabah PPBM after its winning candidates jumped ship in April last year.
The five are Abdul Rahim Bakri (Kudat), Azizah Mohd Dun (Beaufort), Hafez Yamani Musa (Sipitang), Ronald Kiandee (Beluran) and Zakaria Mohd Edris (Libaran).
Sabah Umno now has only two MPs – Bung and Mohamad Alamin (Kimanis).
“Of course, we have to defend the 14 seats because we have served the rakyat for such a long time, so we want these seats back,” Aziz told FMT, adding most of these were Umno strongholds, including the five held by PPBM.
“Bear in mind that they (the five who crossed over to PPBM) contested and won under the BN flag in GE14, so naturally we still want the seats back.
“Even if Sabah PPBM wanted to take our traditional seats, they must be replaced with other seats so we will still have 14,” he said.
Aziz said Sabah BN also needed to fight for its components PBRS and MCA on the 11 remaining seats.
He said the general election was unlike the Sabah polls held in September, where there were 13 new seats.
“We had some leeway in the Sabah election for negotiations because we could take from the additional seats if our previously contested state seats were taken, but for the parliamentary seats, it is clear that there are no changes,” he said.
He took issue with Annuar using the Sabah election as a basis for seat allocations.
“He cannot use that comparison for Sabah because we were not the (state) government then and besides, different places have different strengths,” he said.
He added that Sabah Umno fielded about 90% new blood in the 32 seats it contested in the Sabah polls and still managed to win 14, which according to him was a considerable achievement.
“If people wanted to say ‘Umno contested many seats but lost a lot too’, we put new faces in the Sabah election but still won quite a lot compared with other parties.
“And the ones we lost were also good and close fights where our candidates were defeated by small margins. They were not incumbents too,” he said.