Public demands for seats might delay electoral pact between BN and GRS


KOTA KINABALU: Negotiation for an electoral pact between Sabah Barisan Nasional and its state partner Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) might hit a brick wall if certain party leaders continue to make public demands.

Senior Sabah Barisan sources said that there had been no negotiations as yet though they had indicated to the GRS leadership the seats they were keen to contest in the coming general election.

"With all these statements in the media, I don't know if we can make any progress on seat negotiations," a senior state Barisan leader, who declined to be named, said when contacted Saturday (Aug 13).

He was referring to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) state Srikandi chief Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun's statement that Bersatu would not compromise on giving up any of the six MP seats held by the party in Sabah.

Azizah, who is Beaufort MP, had insisted on the seats - Beaufort, Sipitang, Kudat, Beluran, Libaran and Ranau - be left to the Bersatu to defend in any electoral pact.

Apart from Ranau whose incumbent won on a PKR ticket before joining Bersatu, the five other seats were won on Barisan tickets in 2018 but the incumbents left Barisan-Umno to join Bersatu when it spread its wings to Sabah in 2019.

Bersatu is a member of Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) whose other members were Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Sabah STAR, Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and Usno.

GRS and Barisan were part of the state coalition government.

According to the Barisan officials, a statement by Sabah STAR president Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan saying that they were prepared for free for all contests among parties did not augur well for seat sharing talks between GRS and Barisan.

However, the leader explained that Sabah Barisan chief Datuk Bung Moktar Radin would discuss with GRS chairman cum Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor to work on areas of cooperation on 25 Parliamentary seats in Sabah.

"We don't know how it will go but we are ready to talk," said the Barisan leader.

It is understood that the four parties Sabah Barisan (Umno, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah-PBRS, MCA and MIC) were eyeing 14 of the 25 Parliament seats.

A broad coalition of parties from Perikatan National, Sabah Barisan and PBS was formed under the name of GRS that toppled the ruling Warisan Plus state government in the snap state elections in 2020.

Following the registration of GRS earlier this year, the state coalition government was now known as GRS-Barisan.

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