KOTA KINABALU: There are few signs of a new Sabah Chief Minister being sworn in on Sunday (Sept 27) amidst continuing intense haggling between Umno and Bersatu over which party should hold the position.
Back and forth discussions and offers between the two political parties since the wee hours of Sunday have not reached a conclusion as Sabah waits for a new Chief Minister following the victory by the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition over incumbents Warisan Plus led by Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
The choice of GRS is widely split between Sabah Umno chief Datuk Bung Moktar Radin and Sabah Bersatu chief Datuk Mohd Hajiji Mohd Noor.
Sources have said that both sides are standing their ground for the Chief Minister's position and there is little room left for negotiation amidst political talk that horse-trading was going to “bring in” more assemblymen to their sides.
The Sabah elections results gave GRS a total of 38 seats with Sabah Barisan, through Sabah Umno, winning 14 seats, Perikatan Nasional 17 seats (Bersatu-11 seats and Sabah STAR-six seats) and partner Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) taking seven seats.
Shafie’s Warisan became the party with the most seats after it picked up 29 seats while its partners PKR won two seats and Upko one. Warisan Plus has a total 32 seats in the 73-member assembly. Three independents won.
Shafie has yet to concede defeat and has stated that under the Sabah Constitution the leader of the party (in this case Warisan) with the biggest majority should be the first choice to be offered the Chief Minister's post by the Governor.
Shafie’s stand indicates that he was ready to lead a minority government in the event that the other parties failed to agree to a candidate for the Chief Minister's post.
The GRS is an informal coalition and contested under three separate logos.
Sabah Bersatu leaders were at the Magellan Sutera Resort while state and senior federal Umno leaders were at the state headquarters as both sides discussed resolving the tug of war to be the Chief Minister.
Shafie and Warisan leaders are also receiving and making calls as they try to cobble together a simple majority though political observers noted that it would be difficult for them to make the numbers.
Political sources on both sides explained that calls were being made between leaders as they try to fix a majority of their liking after Umno and Bersatu remained adamant on their positions.
They expect that Umno’s position could affect the razor-thin majority of the national Perikatan government led by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, expecially after PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim claimed that he had the majority in Parliament.
Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Umno MPs were free to decide on who they would want to support.
If Bersatu-Umno discussions for the Sabah Chief Minister's post go awry, sources have said there is a possibility that snap elections could be held at the federal level.
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