KOTA KINABALU: Sabah opposition parties are struggling to avoid a free-for-all in the coming general election, making no headway on talks for an electoral pact to take on Barisan Nasional in straight fights.
Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal appears adamant on going it alone, continuing to ask national-based Pakatan Harapan parties to stay out of Sabah.
Sources said Shafie is not keen to talk to Sabah Pakatan leaders although both Sabah PKR and Sabah DAP have been given the mandate by their national leadership to discuss seat allocation directly.
“It looks like Shafie prefers to talk at the national level and he does not really want to talk to us directly,” a Pakatan source said, adding they had asked Pakatan chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to speak to him.
“Sabah Pakatan has already decided on the seat allocation, but we cannot announce anything as we need to sort it out with Warisan and other local opposition parties,” a senior Sabah Pakatan leader said on condition of anonymity.
“Our priority is for a pact with Warisan and others like the United Sabah Alliance (USA),” the source said, adding they may settle for arrangements in certain seats without an overall pact covering all 60 state and 25 parliamentary seats.
Sabah DAP secretary Chan Foong Hin said the party has yet to reach any consensus on a pact with Warisan or other local parties.
“Time is running out. We need to formalise a united opposition seat arrangement,” he said.
He admitted that discussions with certain leaders in Warisan had been held, but nothing formal was reached.
Fong, who is the Sri Tanjung assemblyman, was commenting on Shafie’s statement in Kadamaian on Saturday where he reiterated that the national Pakatan parties should leave Sabah to state parties and reject other local-based opposition by uniting under Warisan.
Shafie has maintained that Warisan supports Pakatan at the national level but wants PKR, DAP and Amanah to stay out of Sabah.
“I don’t want to be in Pakatan as we will be tied down. Sabah can be ruled by a state party and we can work with them,” he told a political gathering in Sulaman yesterday.
Local opposition coalition USA, also known as Gabungan Sabah, has also called on the national opposition to stay out of the state.
Shafie, who has emerged as the main Muslim bumiputra opposition leader, has rejected the idea of talks with USA, often accusing some of their leaders as being Barisan-friendly.
USA includes Sabah STAR, led by Bingkor assemblyman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan; Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah, led by Klias assemblyman Datuk Lajim Ukin; and the Sabah Progressive Party, led by former chief minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee.