Talks Rife BN, Bersatu Having Hiccups over Seat Allocation

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Seat allocation process in an election has never been easy – politicians need to compromise and consolidate or risk severe infighting that can lead to break-ups.

Ahead of the Sabah polls, talks are rife that Barisan Nasional and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) are experiencing hiccups over 20 Sabah state seats despite recently deciding to work together under the Muafakat Nasional (MN) pact.

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s analyst Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said stubbornness and infighting would only illustrate weaknesses in BN and Bersatu’s political cooperation.

BN, Bersatu must negotiate seat allocations for Sabah polls

“Many voters have become non-partisan or do not display their leanings nowadays.

“Issues related to infighting could lead to campaign sabotage and this can influence the voting pattern as well,” he said when contacted.

Sivamurugan warned that failure to compromise would lead to both BN and Bersatu squaring-off against each other for the same seats, thus giving an advantage to other opponents.

“This is an acid test for MN and Perikatan Nasional to show whether they can agree to disagree, or otherwise. If they fail, their party members will start to question the strength of the (informal) coalition,” he said.

The state election’s nomination will take place this Saturday and polling is scheduled to be on Sept 26.

However, the Court of Appeal’s verdict on former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman and 32 other former assemblymen’s challenge against the dissolution of the state assembly, which is expected to be announced soon, may change the current scenario altogether.

The court is hearing submissions from counsel Datuk Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin, who is representing the 33 assemblymen; Sabah Attorney-General Brenndon Keith Soh, who is acting for Sabah Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin; and counsel Datuk Cyrus Das, who is appearing for Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal and the state government.

Universiti Malaya’s Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said if the election was called off, BN and Bersatu could temporarily be relieved from the pain of going through seat negotiations.

However, consequently, Sabahans would be incensed by the protracted political mess.

“Firstly, the election was called after Musa came up with the SD (statutory declaration) saying he has the sufficient support of Sabah assemblymen.

“And now, there is a possibility that the court will agree with Musa. Sabahans will not be happy because they are ready to cast their votes now,” he said.

Should the election proceed as scheduled, Awang Azman said Bersatu would have much to prove or risk getting fewer seats in the 15th General Election (GE15).

“If Bersatu and BN are defeated in Sabah, it will mean fewer seats for Bersatu in the GE15.

“They (BN and Bersatu) must be able to compromise starting now and they need to understand that the Sabah election victory does not belong to one individual.

“It can only be achieved through cooperation. What’s the point of running for seats that you know you will lose?” – NST