KOTA KINABALU: A loose coalition of Sabah opposition parties will have to get its “united platform” in place quickly to make a strong bid for power in the snap Sabah election due any time in the next 60 days.
Political observers say the local opposition parties have yet to reshape themselves as a single force since the Sabah Barisan Nasional fell after the May 2018 general election.
Sabah Umno, Sabah MCA and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) are the only parties remaining with Sabah Barisan while its former partners Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko) departed the coalition.
While Upko left to be part of the Parti Warisan Sabah-led coalition government, PBS and LDP took to sitting in the state opposition platform that loosely worked with the Barisan parties and Sabah STAR.
However, with the formation of the Perikatan Nasional Federal Government in March, PBS led by Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili and Sabah STAR president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan moved to be aligned with Perikatan, which also comprises Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), Barisan, PAS and Gabungan Parti Sarawak.
With the dissolution of the Sabah state assembly following a failed attempt to take over the state government, the main opposition – Barisan, Sabah Bersatu, PBS and Sabah STAR – now are working loosely among themselves.
Analysts say these parties have to quickly work out an arrangement in sharing the 73 seats.
They have yet to provide a united front, provide new and young faces and avoid any clashes between themselves for the seats, the analysts added.
Local political observer Rahezzal Shah said the opposition grouping of Musa and the others might just pull it off if they managed to settle the seat arrangement among themselves.
“I foresee a big challenge in seat allocation among Umno and Bersatu (whose members comprise former Umno assemblymen), ” he said.
Rahezzal said they would also have to see how to accommodate those assemblymen who had switched from Warisan to Musa’s side.
“These are the two biggest challenges, if they can work this out, there might be a strong chance for them to wrest seats in Sabah’s west coast, and non-Muslim bumiputra areas, ” he added.
He said the east coast, which is Shafie’s stronghold, might be difficult for the opposition to overcome.
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