Former foreign minister Anifah Aman will not be contesting in the Kimanis by-election, according to Sabah opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan.
Kitingan, who is also Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president, disclosed to FMT that following his discussion with Anifah and other Sabah opposition parties recently, the former Umno man has opted out of the by-election.
“This is because he told us he wants to contest in the 15th general election.
“He’s overseas now but will return before nomination day. For the time being, it doesn’t look like he’s contesting – that’s what he told us,” he said.
Anifah won the seat during the 2018 general election under a Barisan Nasional ticket, narrowly defeating Warisan challenger Karim Bujang.
Karim filed an election petition alleging irregularities, with the Election Court ruling in his favour and overturning the result, causing a vacancy.
The decision was upheld by the Federal Court. However, Anifah has applied for a revision of the Federal Court decision, contending that there was bias on the bench which heard his case.
Meanwhile, Kitingan said his party had initially decided against contesting the Kimanis seat but he is now having second thoughts after members and supporters insisted they had a good chance of winning if they fielded a candidate.
“We had decided not to join the race but from our internal discussions, the sentiments are different from the ground, so we need to listen. Many are pushing for us to contest,” he claimed.
“We are still considering now – let’s see about this in one week,” he said, adding they will need to carry out further ground surveys and analysis in Kimanis, whose voters are mostly from the Muslim Bumiputera community.
The Keningau MP contended that STAR could capitalise from the split votes between Warisan and Umno among the Muslim Bumiputeras, which constitutes over 50% of the roughly 30,000 voters in Kimanis.
“We actually have a chance – the Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) community consists of 40% to 45% of the voters. We need 10% to 20% votes from the Muslim Bumiputeras for a win,” Kitingan said.
He, however, acknowledged that Parti Bersatu Sabah is still assessing the situation and has yet to decide whether to field a candidate.
Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee had said the party will sit out this by-election.
The Election Commission has set next Jan 18 as polling day for the Kimanis by-election, with early voting on Jan 14. – FMT