KOTA KINABALU,Feb 19: Sabah Umno is not likely to be given the 14 parliamentary seats it wants to contest in the next general election, analysts said.
Universiti Malaysia Sabah senior lecturer Lee Kuok Tiung said it would not be possible for one party within the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition to be given more than half of the 25 parliamentary seats in the state.
“Ten will be more realistic as there are other partners in GRS,” he told FMT.
Sabah Umno chief Bung Moktar Radin said earlier this week the party intended to contest in at least 14 of the seats in GE15.
Lee said there were nine component parties in GRS and they had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen the coalition and ensure political stability in the state.
He said further negotiations among the parties, and between Umno and PPBM, will see the number of seats allocated to each party “scaled down”.
“It is common for a party to say it wants more seats. At the same time, I think the incumbents who wish to re-contest will be given the priority to stand again,” he said.
In the last general election, Sabah Umno contested in 14 seats and won seven. However, five of its MPs later left to join PPBM.
The 14 seats Sabah Umno is eyeing are Kudat, Kota Belud, Sepanggar, Papar, Kimanis, Beaufort, Sipitang, Tenom, Beluran, Libaran, Kinabatangan, Silam, Semporna and Kalabakan.
Should Umno get its way, it will leave only 11 seats for its allies in GRS – PPBM, STAR, SAPP, PAS, PBS and the Barisan Nasional component parties of MCA, PBRS and MIC.
Meanwhile, Sabah UiTM’s Tony Paridi Bagang said there could be friendly contests between Sabah Umno and its GRS partners, particularly those from Perikatan Nasional, if the party insisted on having the 14 seats.
He also said the early announcement by Bung on the seats was meant to “test the waters”.
But whether the party will have its demands met, he said, is still up in the air as discussions with the other GRS parties have yet to take place.