Tussle for Sabah ‘jewel’

  • Nation
  • Monday, 18 Feb 2008

KOTA KINABALU: The Kota Kinabalu parliamentary seat – the jewel of the Chinese seats in Sabah – has turned into a hot seat even before a decision is made as to which Barisan Nasional party will field a candidate there.

The Sabah Progressive Party hopes to persuade the Barisan to allocate the seat to its president Datuk Yong Teck Lee. The seat is being held by Parti Bersatu Sabah deputy president Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai.

PBS president Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan said Yong was “disrespectful” in eyeing the seat, adding that PBS had secured it.

The seat, which has 43,621 voters, has an 80% Chinese population. It is likely to see PBS vice-president Datuk Dr Chong Eng Leong being named the candidate if the Barisan gives the seat back to Pairin’s party.

“I hope PBS can respect other people’s right to express their thinking,” Yong told reporters at a Chinese New Year gathering for Kepayan Low-Cost Residence Association members.

Yong, who is making a comeback since a ban from holding public office for an election offence after the 1999 elections, said that it was timely for him to make known his thinking.

For him, thinking of Kota Kinabalu was a coming home to his old Gaya parliamentary seat, half of which was carved out into the Kota Kinabalu seat following the 2003 redelineation exercise.

Outlining his reasons for eyeing Kota Kinabalu, he said the constituency covers the two SAPP state seats of Luyang and Likas which were well-served, adding that his party has a bond with the locals.

Of the 25 parliamentary seats in Sabah, Kota Kinabalu was the most difficult to win and Barisan would have an uphill struggle, he said.

“It is a question of who can win it. For me, it is difficult but not impossible.”

Two opposition parties are hoping to work out a straight fight against Barisan for the Kota Kinabalu seat. Their candidates could either be Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s state deputy chairman Christina Liew or the DAP’s state election chairman Hiew King Cheu.

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