Kota Marudu Member of Parliament

All eyes on 13 new Sabah state seats

When the Election Commission (EC) posted the list of the 13 proposed new state constituencies in Sabah on Sept 15, a tone has been set for the upcoming general election.

While voters speculate on whether their polling stations will be changed or who will be fielded, political parties on both sides of the divide discuss which areas to contest. Even though the list is tentative, some have started to voice interest on the grounds of track record and “win-ability”.

While it is still too early for the state opposition parties as they have yet to iron out their “collaborative” efforts to fight Sabah Barisan Nasional on a single front, BN component parties have been bolder; while not openly staking claims on seats, they have mentioned the number of new seats they are eyeing.

United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), state-based parties known for championing state and native rights, are among the first to signal interest.

Upko acting president Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau said the party was realistic in its wish to have four out of the 13 new seats, besides retaining its quota of four parliamentary and six state seats.

He made the request in front of BN chairman and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was in the state to launch Upko’s convention last week. While he had not mentioned any particular seats, party acting deputy president Datuk Siringan Gubat was previously quoted as saying they hoped the BN central leadership would give them the opportunity to represent the coalition at the proposed Dambai, Mengaris, Telupid and Bengkoka seats. The other new seats are Tanjung Dumpil, Pantai Dalit, Pintasan, Sungai Manila, Lamag, Kukusan, Darau, Tulid and Segama. Siringan said the party was confident of contesting these Kadazandusun- and Murut- (KDM) majority areas.

PBS deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili, on the other hand, requested for six new seats during the party congress last week. This is on top of their quota of 13 state and four parliamentary seats. The party lost six state seats (Matunggong, Tamparuli, Api-Api, Sri Tanjong, Inanam and Kadamaian) and one parliamentary seat (Kota Kinabalu) in the last election. Ongkili wanted Telupid, Mengaris and Dambai — the three same seats Upko wanted — saying the multiracial party could deliver results based on its track record and presence.

He reasoned: “Some of these areas, for example Telupid, comes out from Labuk, a constituency we never lost since 1985. So, who else is better to contest there?” Liberal Democratic Party, a Chinese-based BN component party, also signals interest in some of the new “urban and suburban areas” seats, but stops short of naming them.

Liberal Democratic Party, a Chinese-based BN component party, also signals interest in some of the new “urban and suburban areas” seats, but stops short of naming them. Sabah MIC, which did not contest in the previous general elections, wants to run in any parliamentary or state seat and represent some 13,000 Indians in the state.

Najib, in his visit to the state last week, said while everyone could make requests, what mattered was who could ensure victory for the coalition. “The decision must be based on what is best for BN. We need to form not just a government, but a strong one.” For now though, it is a waiting game as EC gears towards the second exhibition of the notice following the local inquiry from the first display.

Source :NewStraitstimeonline