Pakatan presidential council to meet next week to decide on Sandakan candidate

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. – Bernama

PETALING JAYA: The Pakatan Harapan presidential council will meet next week to decide on the candidate for the upcoming May 11 Sandakan parliamentary by-election.

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said, however, it has been agreed that the seat will be contested by DAP.

"The decision is up to DAP, and we will give our full support," he told reporters after attending the Digital Native Agenda (DNA23) Digital Dialogue Series on Funding Diversity programme here Wednesday (April 17).

The Election Commission has fixed the date for nominations on April 27 while early voting will happen on May 7.

The seat became vacant following the death of Sandakan MP Datuk Wong Tien Fatt on March 27.

Key Sabah opposition parties have yet to decide which party will contest the seat with PAS opting out of the by-election.

On the post-mortem of the recent Rantau state by-election, Anwar said he was still waiting for the report from the state chapter.

"We are currently doing the post-mortem. It is still being prepared. I am waiting for the report from the state," he said.

On April 13, Barisan Nasional candidate Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan winner of the Rantau by-election with 10,397 votes.

Mohamad had a 4,510 vote majority over his main rival, Dr S. Streram from Pakatan Harapan, who garnered 5,887 votes.

On a separate matter, Anwar said the newly renegotiated East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project will further boost bilateral relations between Malaysia and China.

"With the settlement on ECRL, I think we will proceed.

"There has never been a problem of bilateral relations with China, " he said.

Asked for his views on the ECRL negotiations settlement, Anwar said "generally, the government is satisfied but we have to move on with the other bilateral issues, trade and investments," added Anwar.

Asked what the difference was between the first and second visit of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to China, Anwar said, "the first visit was positive and he gave the same views (during the second) , in terms of the value of bilateral relations, trade and investments. "

The new and shorter alignment of 640km will also pass through Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Negri Sembilan and Selangor and will provide a direct land link from Kuantan Port to Port Klang, serving as a land bridge between the two ports.

The ECRL will have 20 stations – Kota Baru and Tok Bali in Kelantan, Kampung Raja, Kuala Terengganu, Pengkalan Berangan, Dungun, Kemasik and Chukai in Terengganu while in Pahang, the train will make stops in Cherating, Kuantan Port City, Kuantan Port City 2, Kota SAS, Gambang, Maran and Mentakab.

Dr Mahathir said the project, which now costs RM44bil after renegotiation, would have a new targeted completion date of Dec 31, 2026. This is an extension of two-and-a-half years from the original completion date of June 20, 2024.

The construction cost managed to be brought down by RM22bil, which is almost a third of the original cost of RM66bil.

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