KOTA KINABALU: Umno will go all out to win back the Kimanis parliamentary seat if the Federal Court upholds an Election Court decision to declare the 2018 General Election result for the seat as null and void.
Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said Sabah Umno will begin immediate preparations of its election machinery for Kimanis, which was an Umno seat held by Datuk Seri Anifah Aman who left the party to become an independent MP after the May 2018 general election.
“We respect the court’s decision and the due process of possible appeal against it. We will wait for the final decision.
“(However), Sabah Umno must take immediate steps to get the machinery on the ground ready if a by-election is to happen, ” he said after opening the annual general meeting of the Tuaran Umno division headed by Datuk Seri Rahman Dahlan.
Mohamad added that he had advised Sabah Umno leaders to pick a candidate without any baggage and who was acceptable to the people.If a by-election is declared, he said, Umno expected Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), which is part of the Opposition block, to return the favour to Umno by supporting its candidate, as Umno had supported the PBS candidate in the Sandakan by-election on May 11 this year.
“Sandakan was not an Umno seat, it was represented by a fellow Barisan party then. But Kimanis is Umno.
“It is quid quo pro (favour for favour), ” he said when asked about the possibility of other local-based Opposition parties contesting the by-election in the southwestern Sabah seat which was a stronghold of Umno before the last general election.
The Opposition block should accept that Kimanis is an Umno seat, he said, adding; “I don’t think they will not be interested in Kimanis.”
He said he has asked Sabah Umno chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin and other leaders including Rahman to work with the other Opposition parties.
“The seat is an Umno base, we can work to win it back, ” he said, when asked about Umno’s strength in the area where most of its former leaders had moved to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and Parti Warisan Sabah.
Anifah has remained as an independent.
Mohamad said the exit of many former party “warlords” has rejuvenated Umno in Sabah, as younger leaders who were suppressed by the old guards were now emerging and strengthening the party.
He said that with Sabah Umno set to get autonomy, the party will further strengthen in the state and play a pivotal role in giving Barisan Nasional a chance to win back the Federal Government.
“We can win over nine states in Peninsular Malaysia but Sabah needs to be strengthened to win back the Federal Government. Kimanis will be an important test, ” he said.
Mohamed noted that Pakatan Harapan is now facing the same voter resentment Barisan felt before GE14.
Bung, when contacted, was non-committal when asked whether his party would field a candidate in the event of a Kimanis poll.
“Sabah Umno is studying the current situation and we are considering (whether or not) to contest, ” he said.
Anifah, who won the seat with 156 votes against Warisan’s Datuk Karim Bujang, is expected to file an appeal within 14 days of Friday’s Election Court decision.
The Election Commission and its returning officer, who were found to have not complied with the due process of the law under Section 32(b) of the Election Offences Act 1954, said they will not be appealing.