Spoilt votes lead to dramatic turn for PBS polls

Dr Ongkili (second right) having a discussion with (from left) Dr Yee, Bangkuai and Dr Joachim.

KOTA KINABALU: The Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) election took a dramatic turn when a delegate demanded a re-check on the spoilt votes in the contest for the deputy president’s post for the non-Muslim bumiputra quota.

This is after Datuk Johnny Mositun, the permanent chairman of PBS’ 36th and 37th annual delegates conferences, had earlier declared that Datuk Dr Joachim Gunsalam, who is the Sabah Deputy Chief Minister, had won by a slim five votes against his only contender Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

ALSO READ: Joachim not thinking of becoming PBS president just yet

Announcing the official result of the closely contested fight at 1.30am on Friday (July 1), Mositun said Dr Joachim had secured 339 votes against the 334 collected by Bangkuai who is the Kiulu assemblyman, adding there were 65 spoilt votes.

At this juncture, the Kiulu PBS deputy division chief Aliamis Sami stood up and challenged the validity of the spoilt votes.

“Because of the razor thin five-vote majority, I ask that the election chairman (Datuk Seri Radin Malleh) scrutinise the 65 spoilt votes,” he said, in front of remaining members who stayed back for the results at the Hakka Hall here.

ALSO READ: Unofficial - Joachim wins PBS deputy president post by a whisker

Radin responded by saying the request was fair as well as good for transparency and ordered for the re-check to take place immediately.

However, the special officer to the deputy chief minister Fadzil John Anthony then stood up and retorted that the re-check should not influence the outcome of the polls as it would be unfair to change the result as all the votes had been legitimately counted earlier.

But Radin subsequently explained that the re-check was only to determine whether the votes were invalid before calling both Aliamis and Fadzil up to the stage to witness the review of the ballots in question.

Following a brief check, it was found that the votes were indeed spoiled, allowing Radin to confirm that Dr Joachim had clinched the No 2 spot by a five-vote majority.

Speaking about the spoilt votes later, Bangkuai said he was taken aback by the fact there were so many spoilt votes, adding it was a similar occurrence in almost all the other contests for the senior positions in the PBS polls.

“I’m a bit surprised with the 65 spoilt votes. The ballots were actually empty as the delegates didn’t mark anyone (as their preferred choice) so, I don’t know what happened.

“But I think it’s for the party to see what needs to be done in terms of making the delegates understand that it is important for them to make a decision. I can see that they couldn’t decide (on who they wanted as the deputy president),” he said.

Besides the race for the non-Muslim bumiputra deputy presidency, most of the contests for positions in the Supreme Council and as the vice presidents also had spoilt votes of 60 and above.

The highest was the contest for the non-Muslim bumiputra vice president slots with 70 spoilt votes recorded.

The lowest spoilt votes at 34 were recorded in the election for the Muslim bumiputra vice president positions as well as the deputy presidency for the Chinese quota which was won by incumbent Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai.

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