KOTA KINABALU: In the last lap of campaigning for the 16th Sabah state election, Perikatan Nasional secretary-general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin is hoping for a truce within the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah candidates who are set to clash in 15 seats on polling day (Sept 26).
“We have given the task to all party presidents to talk to each other. For the last couple of days, we have done quite a good job.
“And now with only less than 72 hours, all have to focus to make sure that whatever it is we have (what it takes) to take over the state government, ” he told reporters when met at the sidelines of the GRS mega-ceramah in Putatan on Thursday (Sept 24).
Parties under GRS, namely Sabah Barisan Nasional, Perikatan, and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) are set to clash in 15 state seats, which is a decrease of two seats from the initial 17 seats that they are set to lock horns at.
On Tuesday (Sept 22), Hamzah announced that PBS will withdraw from the Bingkor and Tambunan state seats to avoid clashing with Sabah STAR, a member of Perikatan.
Despite the truce, Sabah STAR accepted incumbent Inanam assemblyman Kenny Chua as its member although he is clashing with a PBS candidate contesting in Inanam.
Chua’s acceptance in Sabah STAR came hours after the truce was brokered by Hamzah on Sept 22, where Sabah STAR president Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan was present and said that the party would not be endorsing independent candidates, including Chua.
Asked about Chua’s acceptance into Sabah STAR, Hamzah merely answered that it is a "surprise to me".
When met by reporters shortly after, PBS secretary-general Datuk Jahid Jahim also said he could not comment over the matter as it was a new development.
“I just heard of it. We (will) see how. As far as I said, I have to check the situation and facts. I’ve been campaigning, haven’t caught up," he said.
However, he maintained that PBS would still abstain from contesting in Bingkor and Tambunan as part of the truce.
On Sept 22, Hamzah also said there were four remaining state seats (Liawan, Tulid, Moyog and Paginatan) where Perikatan’s Sabah STAR is still in the midst of negotiations to avoid clashes with PBS.
He also said Sabah Barisan and other GRS parties were still in the midst of negotiations to avoid locking horns in the remaining seats.
GRS’ ability to avoid internal clashes in the state seats is being watched by observers, as it could determine whether the main state Opposition coalition is able to put on a united front to take over the state government.
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