KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s opposition parties are hoping to reach a consensus on a single candidate to take on DAP in the May 11 Sandakan by-election.
The key opposition parties – Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Parti Solidariti Tanah Air Ku (Sabah STAR) , Sabah MCA and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) – are in discussions with each other to field a single candidate for the DAP stronghold.
“We are talking. We are likely to have a decision by next week,” said Sabah STAR president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
He said they were hoping to work on a single opposition candidate acceptable to all as it was needed to take on DAP, which had held the seat for two terms.
The seat fell vacant following the death of MP Datuk Stephen Wong Tien Fatt on March 28.
“To me, we should have the best choice. I am not sure if all will be agreeable as some might want to test the electoral mood,” he said.
PBS and Sabah STAR belong to the Gabungan Bersatu Sabah (GBS) coalition, which at one time included Sabah Umno, while Sabah STAR and SAPP belong to the Gabungan Sabah (GS) coalition.
Jeffrey said he was hoping to see all parties within the two coalitions come under one banner.
“We will see which coalition gets registered by the RoS first and we will work with it,” he said, referring to the Registrar of Societies.
Sabah PAS, which initially announced plans to contest the seat, has decided not to contest in support of a single opposition candidate. Liberal Democratic Party, which previously contested the seat under Barisan Nasional, has decided not to contest in respect to the late Wong’s legacy.
Amid the discussions between the main parties, at least three independents have come out to say they were interested to contest the seat of about 40,000 voters that make up some 51% Chinese, 45% Muslim bumiputras and the rest made up of non-Muslim bumiputras, and others.
Former Sabah Amanah chairman Hamzah Abdullah and a former oil palm company manager, Chia Siew Yung, and activist Jufadzil Shi Ahmad have voiced interest to contest the seat.
DAP is widely tipped to field the late Wong’s youngest daughter Vivian, 30, as their candidate for Sandakan.
Jeffrey had named economist Jenny Liew as its potential candidate, while SAPP president Datuk Yong Teck Lee said his party would make its stand known soon.
Sabah Umno chairman Datuk Bung Moktar Radin, who said the party would not contest, had assured his party’s support for a single opposition candidate.