Zahid wants to mend ties

KOTA KINABALU: The door is open for talks to mend strained relations between Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) and Umno, says Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The Barisan chairman and Umno president said there was nothing that could not be resolved and called for a cooling-off period between both parties.

Speaking to reporters after chairing a special meeting with Sabah Umno leaders here yesterday, Ahmad Zahid acknowledged the political dynamics in the state.

The political crisis in the state was triggered when Sabah Barisan chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin announced the party’s decision to severe ties with GRS on Jan 6.

Sabah Barisan and Parti Warisan, working with Parti KDM, nearly toppled Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor’s administration.

However, Hajiji managed to secure a 44-seat majority in the 79-member state assembly, enabling him to remain as Chief Minister.

Ahmad Zahid said his presence here was to signal that Umno’s central leadership did not treat the matter lightly. He added that he was taking personal initiative to resolve the issue.

He said they made several decisions, including a period of calm, to address the political crisis in Sabah.

“During this period, we take the view that no issue cannot be resolved. There are methods we will plan for, but we understand that to achieve this, there must be a two-way understanding between Barisan and Umno with other political partners. We will give priority to this approach,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.

When asked whether he would meet GRS chairman Hajiji, he said: “You understood it very well.”

Ahmad Zahid has issued a gag order to Sabah Barisan and urged the same for other political parties.

“I urge that no interpretation, speculation or any conflicting statements be made, either from us or the other side. This is in order to find a common ground. And we must respect this if we want to find the best possible solution.

“If everyone wants an amicable solution, we can sit behind closed doors or in any kind of situation,” he said, although he did not put a time frame for the cooling-off period.

On the formation of a unity government in Sabah, Ahmad Zahid said that was the vision they intended to realise.

“That is what we want to translate in terms of implementation because it not only involves the affairs of the Sabah government, but is also related to the unity government at the federal level,” he said.

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