Squabbling over seats mars Christmas mood

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 09 Dec 2003

KOTA KINABALU: A Christmas mood is setting in Sabah but many other thoughts are playing in the minds of politicians in the state. 

They are thinking about elections, their seats and whether a new power sharing formula as an alternative to the two-year chief minister’s rotation system can be hammered out by the new year. 

Kadazandusun Huguan Siou or paramount leader Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who leads Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), has said that the 12 new state constituencies, added to the existing 48, were fair game for all Sabah Barisan Nasional parties. 

PBS, the second largest component party with 13 seats next to Umno’s 29, was hoping to field its candidates in constituencies where Kadazandusuns make up the majority of voters. 

Having declared his party’s stand of wanting the chief minister’s rotation scrapped, Pairin has named the new interior constituency of Liawan and the reconstituted Sook seats as the areas where the party wanted to field its candidates. 

Pairin said that both seats could be considered PBS strongholds, with party information chief Henrynus Amin adding that the claim was based on the results of the 1999 state elections. 

Saying that PBS was certain of retaining the 17 seats it won four years ago, Pairin added: “We would like to be allocated some seats especially in the new areas.” 

The claim forLiawan and Sook has ruffled feathers among other Kadazandusun-based components. 

Among those who immediately reacted was Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) led by Tan Sri Joseph Kurup. 

PBRS deputy president Datuk Kadoh Agundong said that PBS could no longer claim to be influential in interior seats like Sook that was part of the Keningau parliamentary constituency in the 1999 general election. 

PBS, then in opposition, won the Keningau seat with only a 250-vote majority, he added. 

Another Kadazandusun-based component, the United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko), which has also been eyeing the new seats, is staying out of any bickering. 

“I do not think there will be any purpose served by Barisan parties squabbling in the press over the division of seats,” Upko president Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said yesterday. 

Noting that parties can lay claim to the seats they preferred, he said “it should not be to the extent of belittling other people.” 

With the current state assembly term ending by April next year, political observers are waiting to see if Pairin, Dompok and Kurup will be able to see eye-to-eye amid the Christmas mood.  

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