Sabah Umno in no hurry to seek allies for state polls, says Bung

Bung Moktar greeting Ahmad Zahid (left) during the Umno president's overnight working visit to Sabah.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Umno is in no rush to find political partners for the next state election that could be called anytime before September 2025, says its chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin.

Dismissing talk of friction within Sabah Umno, he said the party was focussing on strengthening itself from the grassroots up and would conduct statewide tours from February.

ALSO READ: Sabah Umno open to electoral pact

"Our priority is to strengthen the party first. Through this series of tours, we will monitor and see for ourselves the party's strength in terms of preparations, as well as explain current issues to our members," he said when met at the Sabah Umno liaison office here on Tuesday (Jan 9).

The state Barisan Nasional chairman was asked to comment on talk that Sabah Umno and Parti Warisan among others were looking at electoral cooperation in the upcoming polls.

He said Sabah Umno welcomed cooperation but it must be based on the principle of respecting each other's principles and benefitting not just the parties but the state's people as a whole.

ALSO READ: Suhaimi: Sabah Umno has autonomy to pick its political partners

"We have learned a lot from the previous coalition. We have learned and matured. We will be cautious before making any important decision," he said.

In January last year, Sabah Umno had a falling out with the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition led by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.

Sabah Barisan and GRS worked together to topple the Warisan-led state government of Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal in the September 2020 snap state election.

When parting ways with GRS last year, Bung Moktar said many promises made for the previous polls were never kept.

He also pointed out that Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said that political cooperation with other parties would only be addressed once the Sabah assembly is dissolved.

ALSO READ: Zahid heads to Sabah for talks in view of coming state polls

"We will wait until after the dissolution. Sabah Umno has been approached by other parties to work on an electoral pact but we will finalise (any cooperation) after the assembly is dissolved," Bung Moktar added.

On talk of a party crisis in Sabah, Bung Moktar said Ahmad Zahid's visit to Sabah on Monday (Jan 8) was a working visit to attend the Kadamaian Christmas Open House in Kota Belud.

"It was an official working visit not related to... resolving (any) Sabah Umno unrest," he said, adding that the party president met with Sabah Umno leaders before the event since he was in town.

Bung Moktar said there was no unrest in Sabah Umno and urged party members not to heed such loose talk.

"As leaders and members of Umno, we know better what is happening in our own house, such talk is only (spread by those) outside who want to see us (Umno) weaken," he said.

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