KOTA KINABALU: Political parties in Sabah are getting ready for the Kimanis by-election after the Federal Court yesterday upheld the Election Court’s decision that Datuk Seri Anifah Aman’s victory in the parliamentary seat was null and void.
Parti Warisan Sabah’s Kimanis division chief Datuk Karim Bujang, who had filed the election petition for the seat, said he would be ready to contest for his party again if given the chance.
“Whether I contest or not, that lies with the party. I leave my political future to the party. I’m not really hoping, but if they feel that they want me to contest, I will not object. It’s a party decision,” he said.
Karim said he and the party are ready for the by-election and said the sentiment on the ground is in Warisan’s favour.
“I see some positive signs, you cannot compare Kimanis with Tanjung Piai — it is a different ball game. Kimanis shouldn’t be same. But I am a strong believer in the democratic process and I leave it to voters to see what they want,” added the former assistant minister, who said the court decision vindicated his belief in the rule of law.
The Federal Court yesterday upheld the decision of the election court that there were discrepancies in the number of registered voters and non-compliance of election laws in the Kimanis parliamentary constituency results, declaring it null and void. In doing so, it officially paved the way for a by-election in the federal constituency.
Karim took the election petition to court last June 2018 on three accusations — general bribery, corrupt practices and non-compliance of the law — naming Anifah, the returning officer and the EC as first, second and third respondents.
The court cleared Anifah of the allegations but ruled non-compliance on the part of the Election Commission.
Karim came out of retirement last year to contest the seat on a Warisan ticket but lost by a narrow 156-vote margin to Anifah during the May 9 polls.
Meanwhile, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia Sabah chairman Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor said that as a Pakatan Harapan coalition party, it will agree to ensure that only one candidate is placed for the by-election.
Declining to comment on whether PPBM would want the candidate to come from PPBM, Hajiji said it would be left to the leadership to decide.
“We will negotiate within Pakatan and (its partner) Warisan. Whatever the decision will be made by leadership, we will support.
“We have a few parties, whatever agreed by Warisan and component parties. We are one camp. That’s it. We support whoever the candidate, Pakatan or Warisan,” he said.
Sabah Umno chief Bung Moktar Radin is confident of the party pulling off another “Tanjung Piai” in Kimanis.
He said the party’s state chapter had decided to defend the seat even before Anifah’s case was heard in the Federal Court.
The Kinabatangan MP added that two or three candidates had already been shortlisted to contest the seat.
“We have identified one of them to shoulder the responsibility of garnering a win for Barisan Nasional (BN) at the by-election,” he said.
“We will announce the name after the Election Commission (EC) decides when the by-election will take place.
“We are confident of bringing the sentiments and spirit of the Tanjung Piai victory to Kimanis, and defending a seat which has been repeatedly won by Umno.”
Pakatan Harapan (PH) was soundly defeated in the Tanjung Piai by-election on Nov 16, losing to BN by over 15,000 votes. It was the fourth of nine by-elections the coalition had lost since sweeping to power in the 14th general election.
But Bung said the coalition government of Warisan, PH and Upko in Sabah had not performed as expected since taking over in the May 9 polls last year.
“Sentiments are strong that they have not become a good government that looks at the economy or develops rural areas.
“That is why I am quite confident that Umno/BN will defend the seat in Kimanis,” he said.
He added that Sabah Umno had laid the groundwork ahead of the court case by consistently holding party events at the grassroots level.
“Our election machinery at the 19 polling districts have been mobilised, and our party’s wings have been actively going to the ground for some time now.”
Meanwhile, Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee said the party would decide on its course of action for the Kimanis by-election on Thursday.
“SAPP will discuss the by-election matter at the coming Supreme Council meeting,” he said.