PETALING JAYA: While the Prime Minister has hinted at who might be the choice for chief minister if the Perikatan Nasional-led coalition takes over the state administration, the candidate himself is downplaying that endorsement.
Sabah Bersatu chief Datuk Hajiji Noor said he was humbled that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin himself has endorsed him as the potential chief minister, but added that it was still a matter that needs to be taken up with the newly-formed Gabungan Rakyat Sabah alliance.
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“I have not been informed officially but we and our partners (Perikatan Nasional, Barisan Nasional and PBS) will settle this matter when the time comes.
“Of course I will accept the nomination, but that endorsement (matter) comes later, it does not matter now. We want to win the state election first.
“So I will leave (the decision) to Gabungan Rakyat Sabah," he told reporters when met outside the Dewan Seri Sulaman nomination centre in Tuaran on Saturday (Sept 12), after handing over his nomination papers.
Hajiji who is defending the Sulaman seat which he has held since 1990, will face Parti Warisan Sabah's Datuk Aliasgar Basri and Parti Cinta Sabah's Datuk Rekan Hussein.
Earlier when the Muhyiddin was in Tuaran town to show his support for Hajiji, the Bersatu president hinted that Hajiji was the best choice for the chief minister's post should they win the state elections.
"Who knows, if our partners in Perikatan, Barisan and others agree, the best we can offer as candidate to lead Sabah is none other than Hajiji," said Muhyiddin, which was met by applause from the crowd.
However, Aliasgar when met by reporters, said he believed Muhyiddin's announcement only solidifies the fact that the Opposition front in Sabah is not united.
Aliasgar who referred to Hajiji as “uncle” since they have blood ties, when asked if the endorsement has any impact on him and Warisan, said,"To Warisan, there is only one chief minister and that is Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
"Whereas Perikatan and others have many, I think Datuk Bung Moktar Radin will claim (the title) too, and there is Dr Jeffrey Kitingan as well.
“But Warisan Plus only has one choice, and that is Shafie, ” he said, adding that he believes it would not influence voters in the Sulaman constituency.
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On his chances of beating Hajiji, who is a long-timer at the constituency, he hinted that nothing is impossible, giving the example of Kota Belud MP Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis beating the MP seat incumbent Datuk Salleh Said Keruak who was a former chief minister, in the 14th General Election (GE14) in 2018.
Meanwhile, Sabah Barisan chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin said the Opposition will decide on the choice of chief minister after the state elections are concluded on Sept 26.
He said the focus of Sabah Barisan and its partners was on winning a two-thirds majority in the 73-member Sabah assembly.
“We will decide after the elections, ” he told reporters after filing his nomination papers for the new Lamag state seat in Kinabatangan.