Bersatu Sends Early Signal To Sabah Umno

Hajiji Noor

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Bersatu appears to be digging in for a David vs Goliath fight for seats with Sabah Umno ahead of the coming state election.

The fledgling party, comprising elected representatives who had won on Umno tickets, made its electoral intentions clear today.

“We are already prepared and have identified 45 state assembly areas to be contested by Bersatu candidates,” said its state chief
Datuk Seri Hajiji Haji Noor in a statement today.

Sabah Umno, previously the dominant political party in the state, had earlier said that it would defend all the party’s traditional seats, including the ones now held by Bersatu following crossovers last year.

Observers said since both parties were expected to mainly contest predominantly bumiputera seats, this could present a problem in terms of showing a united opposition front.

If both Hajiji and Sabah Umno chief Datuk Bung Moktar Radin are not willing to compromise over the number of seats they intend to contest, the opposition front would be anything but united, they said, adding it would be fractious from the get-go.

At the outset it would appear that Bersatu, whose president is the prime minister, has an edge but Sabah Umno, which has shrunk to having only one assemblyman – former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman – in its stable is not to be underestimated, they said.

Under the circumstances observers expect seat negotiations between the two parties to be prickly.

In his statement today Hajiji said Bersatu was ready to discuss with parties within the Perikatan Nasional (PN), Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) to combine strengths in the coming election.

“We are confident Bersatu will become the best alternative and accepted by majority of the people to lead in Sabah,” he stressed.

A total of 73 seats will be contested in the state election, the date for which is expected to be announced by the Election Commission soon.