KOTA KINABALU: How Datuk Seri Anifah Aman (pic) positions himself politically to defend his Kimanis seat, should there be a by-election, is being keenly watched.
The former foreign minister is appealing against the Election Court’s decision to declare his win in the 2018 general election null and void, but local political parties expect a by-election.
The 66-year-old, who is now an independent after quitting Umno in September 2018, had initially planned to form his own local party but later opened up to the possibility of joining existing state parties with the intention of championing Sabah’s rights.
Political analyst Rahezzal Shah said in the event of a by-election, it would be the first involving an independent seat and it was interesting to see Anifah’s game plan as an independent surrounded by major parties, including Umno and Parti Warisan Sabah.
“He has a few options.
“One is to remain independent but forming an electoral pact with Sabah-based political parties like Parti Bersatu Sabah and Sabah STAR.
“Two is to work with Umno or form an official pact with Sabah-based opposition parties with Umno giving unofficial support, ” he said.
He said Anifah could alternatively contest under the ticket of either PBS or Sabah STAR.
Asked if Anifah would find it tough to retain the seat in the event of a by-election, Rahezzal said: “Well, if you look at all the by-elections held since GE14, all incumbent parties managed to retain their seats except for Semenyih.
“But the super-slim majority obtained by Anifah in the last election makes this by-election, if the appeal is rejected, one that is too close to call, ” he said, referring to the 156-vote majority in Kimanis.
Rahezzal noted that the by-election would also test new partners Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Sabah Bersatu) working with Parti Warisan Sabah, which is likely to field Datuk Karim Bujang, who filed the petition challenging Anifah’s win.
Warisan had worked with DAP and PKR in Sabah before GE14 but is not a member of Pakatan Harapan while Sabah Bersatu was set up in April this year, with former Sabah Umno leaders and members, joining the party.
“It is definitely a tough election. If there is a test then it would be on the cooperation between Bersatu and Warisan.
“Though Bersatu is with Warisan now via Pakatan Harapan, the test would be on how committed Bersatu leaders are in helping Warisan to wrest the seat, ” he said.