Shafie Places Loyalty Above Everything Else

KOTA KINABALU: Old faces. New faces. Professionals. It’s the name of the game come every election but Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal wants more out of candidates.

As he heads into the state election with his Warisan Plus partners – DAP, PKR and Upko – he has made it clear to them that he is looking for loyal men and women.

He is confident that trustworthy candidates plus the public’s preference for local-based parties would work in favour of Warisan Plus.

Loyalty was the one human trait that eluded at least 13 of the coalition’s assemblymen who controversially switched sides to join a now botched opposition attempt to bring down his government.

Shafie, who is caretaker chief minister, said loyalty would therefore be more important than good education, career and professional background in the coalition’s search for candidates to field in the forthcoming state election.

“I can place a degree holder, a professional, or a new face but it would be useless if in the end they jump parties after winning the election.

“That’s why loyalty is our main criteria in the selection of candidates,” he said.

Shafie, the president of Parti Warisan Sabah, was speaking to the media after holding talks with Upko, PKR, DAP state leaders as well as representatives from Parti Amanah Negara, Sabah here.

It was the first meeting between the leaders following the dissolution of the state assembly on July 30.

Besides choice of candidates the meeting is also held preliminary discussions on seat distribution among them.

“Whether it is Warisan, Upko, PKR, DAP or Amanah we will be united in facing our rivals,” he said.

Shafie said member parties could not be just given a number as to how many they could contest and where they could place their men in the polls, without taking into account if they would be able to produce candidates who met the required criteria.

Towards this end said discussions on these matters were ongoing with partner parties and that they hoped to finalise matters by next week.

“Our stand is on unity and strong cooperation between Warisan Plus member parties and if we maintain our relations, we can win the polls,” he said.

Shafie did not disclose names but hinted that present members of parliament could be picked to contest state seats if they stood a good chance of defeating the coalition’s rivals.

On whether Amanah will be given seats to contest this time around, he said this would be looked into but hastened to add that it was important to also acknowledge grassroots preference for local-based parties.

He said Amanah was not allocated any seat in GE14 as they were new here at the time unlike the others which were already established and had strengths of their own.

Earlier, Shafie explained that the dissolution of the state assembly was necessitated by constant political pressures not only from within Sabah but also from players in the peninsula.

“We cannot let this go on as these pressures have been putting development plans as well as investments on hold,” he said.

Elections must be held within 60 days from the date of dissolution and the Electtion Commission is expected to meet over the polls soon.