KOTA KINABALU: Some Gabungan Rakyat Sabah parties are unfazed by demands from Sabah Umno to contest 14 of the 25 parliamentary seats in Sabah in an upcoming general election.
Two leaders - Bersatu vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee and Sabah STAR president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan - said that parties were free to announce their intentions but at the end of the day, it will still be discussed.
Kiandee said it was normal for parties to make their intentions known but such issues of seat sharing are discussed at a roundtable for a decision on the best party and candidate to be fielded.
“Everyone can say what they aim or plan to contest, but in the end all parties under GRS and Perikatan Nasional will still discuss the matter.
"All will be given a chance to present their views and their strengths before all parties come an agreement on the seat or seats to be shared," he said, adding that the focus is to win GE15.
Kiandee said that it was Sabah Umno chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin’s right to announce his party's intention and as a partner under GRS, all parties had to agree to it.
Among the 14 seats Sabah Umno declared it wanted to contest are five seats held by Sabah Bersatu including Kiandee's Beluran seat which he won on an Umno ticket but later left the party to join Bersatu in 2019.
On a lighter note, Kiandee, who is Agriculture and Food Industry Minister, said that his seat was sought after by many of the GRS components parties like Sabah STAR and also Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).
However, through discussions all these matters could be resolved similar to the process GRS went through during the Sabah elections in September 2020.
Kiandee agreed that in the last state election there were clashes in some of the 73 state seats among GRS partners after they failed to agree on seat sharing.
"Discussions on seat sharing are our focus as the aim is to win GE15," he added.
Jeffrey, who is Perikatan Nasional deputy chairman, also said that Bung had the right to put forward his party's intentions but it would be subject to discussion by others in GRS.
"We can also say we want to contest 25 seats. We still have to sit down together and sort it out. At the end of the day we will have what is fair to all, ” he added.
Kiandee and Jeffrey, who is Deputy Chief Minister and Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, had earlier held informal discussions on federal and state cooperation to develop various agriculture and fishery-based sectors in the state.