Even with PM’s Nudge, Allies Still Can’t Break Candidate Deadlock

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With the nomination process for the state elections just 12 hours away, Perikatan Nasional (PN), Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), and BN remain deadlocked over the rights to field candidates for 11 seats.

Prime Minister and PN chairperson Muhyiddin Yassin flew into Kota Kinabalu this morning to try to hash out a deal. However, a 90-minute meeting came to naught.

After the meeting, BN chairperson Ahmad Zahid Hamidi insisted all was well and that PN, BN, and PBS have reached a “consensus” and will not field candidates against each other.

However, leaders of BN component parties Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) and PBS indicated otherwise and will not be withdrawing their candidates.

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“Very unlikely (to withdraw) because those are our seats… In last, GE all the voters voted for BN,” said PBRS deputy president Arthur Joseph Kurup. He was speaking to reporters after the meeting.

PBRS is planning to field five candidates, including for Sook, which the party won in the 2018 elections.

The incumbent Sook lawmaker defected to Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Star) in late 2018 and is planning to defend his seat as well.

Moreover, all five constituencies which PBRS wants are subject to overlapping claims.

Kurup said BN was more recognisable to the voters and hence stood a better chance of winning, and so the other claimants – PBS and Star, who are using the PBS and PN logo respectively – should give way.

PBS deputy president Radin Malleh told reporters after the meeting that his party is firm on the 15 seats they were claiming.

At a separate press conference later, Radin explained that PBS had already reduced their claims from 25 and hence they are unable to reduce the figure any further.

“It seems there are some candidates or parties that really want to contest and think that they are stronger in those areas.

“We cannot do anything to stop them,” he said.

Although clashing with allies could not be avoided, Radin said his party remained optimistic as the number of overlapping claims were “not many”.

While some of these allies will have to take on each other during the polls, all parties have in principle agreed to adopt the same manifesto or “Aku Janji” on Malaysia Day, or the fifth day of the campaign.

This was announced by Zahid, who said this was done as a symbol of the “unity” and “solidarity” between PN, BN, and PBS.

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“The ‘Aku Janji’ will be seen as the new deal for the people in Sabah,” added Zahid.

However, not every party is committed to having a joint manifesto. PBS’ Radin, for instance, said his party would check the contents of the ‘Aku Janji’ document before endorsing it.

Meanwhile, PBS launched its own manifesto today, which, among others, promised a law to prevent crossing the floor (party-hopping), implementing Sabah identity cards to stem illegal border crossings, and reinstating a two-term limit for the state governor. – Malaysiakini