KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Barisan Nasional parties have begun manoeuvring and backroom lobbying for seats in the next state elections, days before Sabah Umno liaison chief Datuk Musa Aman takes over as Chief Minister on Thursday.
United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) is already asking for the Tambunan seat held by Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, president of Parti Bersatu Sabah which was readmitted into Barisan last year after a 12-year hiatus.
Tambunan Upko division chief Petrus Guruting has already named a state civil servant as the partys choice for the polls due by next March.
The division passed a resolution for the seat to be returned to Upko as it had contested the seat on a Barisan ticket in 1999, Guruting said, adding that the status quo of the last state elections should be retained in seat distribution.
What is seen as a tongue-in-cheek call by Guruting to ask for the Tambunan seat widely regarded as the power base of Pairin, the move is showing signs of open demands by the two Kadazandusun-based parties for seats in the coming elections.
However, Upko secretary-general Datuk Wences Anggang was quick in cooling his partys Tambunan demand, saying that its wish to contest in Tambunan would be conveyed to the Barisan leadership which would make the final decision.
Pairin, who has been the assemblyman for the Tambunan since 1976, rejoined Barisan in January last year after quitting the coalition in the midst of the October 1990 general election.
Since PBS re-entry, there have been many occasions of political jostling between PBS and Upko led by Minister in the Prime Ministers Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, who has until then been the flag-bearer of the Kadazandusun community in Barisan.
Another Kadazandusun-based party, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah led by Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, is also seen to be joining ranks with Upko in ensuring that it gets a fair share of seats in the polls.
Musa, who takes over as Chief Minister from Liberal Democratic Party president Datuk Chong Kah Kiat under the Sabah Barisan rotation system, is set to lead Barisan into the state elections.