Upko ready to face early Sabah polls, says Youth chief

Upko Youth chief Felix Joseph Saang speaking during the retreat programme.

KOTA KINABALU: Upko, a Sabah-based component party of Pakatan Harapan, says it is ready for the possibility of an early state election amid uncertainty about whether the coalition will work with the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) in the polls.

Its Youth chief, Felix Joseph Saang, said the wing was “ready at any time” should the state election be called earlier than scheduled in September 2025.

He said preparations have been made and efforts to strengthen the party have been undertaken at all levels.

“What is needed is for the Youth to solidify the party and work closely at all levels in Sabah,” he said in a statement on Monday (Dec 11).

“This includes getting closer to voters and helping the people in need, especially during a time where cost of living and education have been a challenge,” he added.

Saang said this during a retreat programme for Upko Youth members at a hotel here on Sunday (Dec 10).

Upko president Datuk Ewon Benedick was present to open the two-day event, which was also attended by the party’s senior leadership.

On Sunday, two GRS deputy presidents, Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan (Sabah STAR) and Tan Sri Pandikar Amin (Usno), said they would prefer to see the state's ruling coalition contest all 73 state seats in the elections, which is due by September 2025.

Speaking at the launch of the Zone 2 GRS Wanita roadshow here, Kitingan, who is Deputy Chief Minister, said that GRS should contest all 73 state seats to ensure that GRS continues to govern the state.

Pandikar, the Usno president, also said it was time for the local coalition to contest all seats.

He said it was in line with GRS' tagline, 'Rumah Kita, Kita Jaga' (we take care of our own backyard).

GRS, led by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor, had more than a two-thirds majority in the Sabah assembly and is currently working with Sabah Pakatan and renegade Sabah Umno assemblymen following the failed Jan 5 coup.

Other parties in GRS are Hajiji's Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah (Gagasan Rakyat), Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) led by Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili, Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) led by Datuk Yong Teck Lee, Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah led by Tan Sri Liew Yun Fah and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) led by Datuk Chin Su Phin.

Yong had also said previously that GRS should go on its own in the next election.

During various political events involving Gagasan Rakyat or GRS earlier, Hajiji indicated that he was keen to see the Unity Government formula in facing the upcoming state election.

He indicated that cooperation between GRS parties and Sabah Pakatan could lead to success for the coalition in the next state election.

Saang said the discussions in the workshops during the Upko Youth retreat programme will be refined into a resolution which will become a guide and core for the Wing in facing future political challenges.

“Working as a team is important because it can decide the success of the party in facing rivals during a challenging era where social media platforms are being used by the party and Upko leaders,” he said.

He added that Upko does not fear anyone and will continue to fight, including with its allies, using healthy and mature politics.

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Upko , Sabah Polls , Pakatan Harapan , GRS


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