GRS needs full term to deliver electoral promises, says pundit

KOTA KINABALU: The Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) government, led by Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor, needs its full term to meet its electoral promises, says a political analyst.

According to Sabah UiTM senior lecturer Tony Paridi Bagang, many of the goals set by the GRS government were still in progress, so calling for an early state election—the term ends in September next year—can not be on the cards for Hajiji and his coalition partners.

"Several development programmes spearheaded by GRS remain in progress.

"The success of these initiatives will serve as a cornerstone for (GRS') political campaign, showcasing its performance and key performance indicators (KPIs) to the electorate," he said on Sunday (April 14).

He said infrastructure issues, including poor water supply that has plagued the state government, need to be resolved before it goes to the polls.

Hajiji had recently insisted that GRS would serve out its full term and dismissed speculation that a state election could be called by October.

Bagang said the next 16 months would also give the seven coalition partners enough time to sort out the allocation of the 73 state seats.

"This period allows GRS and its affiliates ample time to strategically negotiate seats and fortify their political machinery, ensuring a robust foundation for the upcoming election," he said.

"Undoubtedly, seat distribution poses a formidable challenge for any political coalition or pact in every election cycle.

"With the current timeframe, GRS is steadfast in ensuring ... optimal and mutually beneficial seat allocation within its own components and potentially with its partners in Sabah Pakatan Harapan.

"This process not only serves as a litmus test for Hajiji and GRS but also offers a glimpse into the extent of compromise possible between GRS and Pakatan," he said.

GRS comprises: Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah (Gagasan Rakyat) led by Hajiji; Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) led by Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, who is expected to let deputy president Datuk Dr Joachim Gunsalam to take the helm from June 1; Sabah STAR led by Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan; Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) led by Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee; Usno led by Tan Sri Pandikar Amin; Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) under Datuk Chin Su Phin; and Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah (Harapan Rakyat) under Tan Sri Liew Yun Fah.

Non-Muslim native-based PBS and Sabah STAR have been in talks for cooperation to contest native Kadazandusun, Murut and Rungus seats as a bloc under the GRS. They are expected to come to a deal soon.

Several partners like Sabah STAR, USNO and SAPP have been pushing for GRS to go it alone in the coming state election.

However, Hajiji remains open to an electoral pact with Sabah Pakatan parties that are now part of the state coalition government after Sabah Barisan Nasional, led by Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, withdrew its support for the government in January last year.

On Saturday (April 13), Hajiji told reporters the state election would only be held after the end of the current state assembly's term in September next year.

He said many matters needed to be resolved before the next election.

"As the head of the Sabah government, I will make a decision when we hold an election, but our assembly period is now until the end of September next year," he said.

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