By THE BORNEOTODAY TEAM
KOTA KINABALU – Pakatan Harapan will not give up trying to convince opposition parties in Sabah to look at the bigger picture, and unite, in the common effort of toppling the Barisan Nasional in the forthcoming election.
The coalition, consisting of DAP, PKR, Amanah Negara and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, hopes to thrash out an understanding with local Sabah opposition parties so that it could be a one-on-one against the Barisan Nasional.
“Our common enemy is the BN and not ourselves,” said Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Chief Secretary at the Pakatan Harapan Secretariat at a Sabah-level Chinese New Year gathering at Damai, Luyang on Saturday.
He said he is in contact with the state-based opposition parties to work out an understanding and to avoid multi-cornered fights in Sabah that would be advantageous to the ruling BN.
Several local-based opposition parties – Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS), Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and State Reform Party (STAR) are united under Gabungan Sabah (USA) plus Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah have already agreed on a common stand.
But they are vehement in their argument that Amanah, DAP, PKR and Bersatu stay out of the fray in Sabah and leave the fight to them.
Another local party, Parti Warisan Sabah, led by former Umno vice president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal has indicated that they are prepared to go alone.
Opposition supremo Lim Kit Siang said that Harapan will go it alone if necessary as they were both national and local based.
“DAP is both a national and a Sabah local party and will co-operate with other parties to change the government in Sabah and Putrajaya, to save Sabah and Malaysia,” he said.
“In fact, there is talk that Sabah State elections are very imminent, and the Sabah State Assembly may be dissolved next month and Sabah state general elections held in April.”
Kit Siang said he too wished for a single opposition candidate against the BN.
Dato’ Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, the PKR secretary-general who also spoke at the press conference after the CNY event, said he has been in touch with Warisan, but declined to elaborate.
“We are not talking about seats at the moment, in due course obviously, but for now we must agree to cooperate,” he said.
His Sabah state chairman, Christina Liew urged local parties to stop labelling Harapan parties as Malaya parties as the leaders of these parties were all Sabahans.
Seen sharing the same VVIP table at the Harapan do was PCS vice president Paul Voon and an unidentified leader from STAR.
DAP insiders said there were SAPP members among the crowd but did not wish to be officially representing that party.
On Saturday, deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the BN is keeping an open mind on the possibility of Sabah calling for early state elections before the 14th General Election.
“An in-depth study and analysis has to be done before discussing further with Barisan chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on the issue of early Sabah elections,” Ahmad Zahid told reporters.
He said that Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman has his reasons for suggesting that Sabah hold early elections.
“We need to analyse it and get feedback from all,” he added.
There has been talk that the state assembly could be dissolved by March 27 and polls held in April, or that it could be dissolved in April, and elections held in the first half of May (before puasa begins).
The State Assembly currently has 60 seats and the number is expected to increase by 13 more seats, but among the reasons for snap polls is that the Sabah BN wants to avoid contesting the new seats.
The argument given is that the main parties like PBS, UPKO and PBRS are all clamouring for a decent share of the seats, while Umno itself wants 10.