By AZIS KHAN
SANDAKAN: Despite not having any contact with Musa Aman, the sole assemblyman in his party, Umno Sabah chief, Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin is open to the ex chief minister contesting any seat of his choice in the forthcoming elections.
Bung Moktar said that there was no direct communications, (since the 14th General Elections) but he was open to discussion with the Sungai Sibuga incumbent.
“No direct contact (from Musa) so far, but we are okay. I have no problems… all are my friends. So far Musa has not contacted me to tell me that he wants to contest in any seat,” he said, adding that Musa is still a member of UMNO.
In fact, according to sources close to (Umno supreme council member) Abdul Rahman Dahlan’s camp, Musa had shunned Sabah Umno and had not included Bung or any of the leaders in the failed coup to overthrow the Warisan-led government recently.
The aides of Rahman, seen as a close ally of Musa, indicate that the former chief minister is not too keen on Sungai Sibuga as he knows he will perform miserably in that seat, and has indicated he prefers to stand in the new seat of Sungai Manila.
The question is is whether Musa is to contest on an Umno ticket, or as a Bersatu candidate.
At the launching ceremony of Umno Libaran division held in Sungai Kayu District Voting Centre Mile 12 here, Saturday night, Bung said Libaran has requested to have Umno candidates in all three seats under Libaran, namely Gum-Gum, Sungai Manila (one of 13 new state seats), and Sungai Sibuga, a one-time stronghold of Musa.
He also said Umno is eyeing to contest in several new seats in the upcoming election, describing Libaran as an Umno stronghold and that the three candidates have already been identified.
“With the increase in the number of state seats, there are areas which are Umno strongholds including Sungai Manila. For sure we have an advantage there if given the opportunity to contest,” he said when met by reporters.
In GE14, a total of 60 state seats were contested but in July last year, the Dewan Rakyat approved a motion to add 13 more state seats in Sabah bringing the total to 73 seats.
Apart from Sungai Manila, other new state seats are Bengkoka in Kudat parliamentary constituency; Darau (Sepanggar); Limbahau (Papar); Telupid (Beluran); Lamag (Kinabatangan); Kukusan (Kalabakan); Bandau (Kota Marudu); Segama (Lahad Datu); Pintasan (Kota Belud); Tanjung Keramat (Putatan); Pantai Dalit (Tuaran); and Tulid (Pensiangan).
Bung was adamant that his party will contest more than 30 seats.
“The last time we contested 32 seats, so we cannot be contesting 30 seats or 21 seats this time. (This is because) we see the additional seats are located in UMNO strongholds.
“But we are still discussing how many seats Umno Sabah is going to contest in, adding 80 to 85 per cent of the candidates will be new faces.