Joachim wins PBS deputy presidency after spoilt votes re-counted

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Joachim (left) and Bangkuai after the election result was announced.

KOTA KINABALU (July 1): Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr Joachim Gunsalam has been elected as the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) deputy president for the non-Muslim Bumiputera quota, beating his opponent Datuk Joniston Bangkuai by just five votes.

Dr Joachim, the Kundasang state assemblyman, obtained 339 votes while Joniston, the state Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment and Kiulu assemblyman, garnered 334 votes. There were 65 spoilt votes.

A PBS spokesman said voting in the party elections ended at 7.30 pm on Thursday but counting of votes for the non-Muslim Bumiputera deputy president post ended at about midnight, with a recount conducted at 1.30 am.

After the recount, the 65 votes were confirmed spoilt.

Former deputy chief minister Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai was elected as the deputy president for the non-Bumiputera quota when he obtained 481 votes to beat former assistant minister Edward Yong Oui Fah who polled 222 votes. There were 34 spoilt votes.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili was returned unopposed as president, and state Rural Development Minister Datuk Jahid Jahim, who is Tamparuli assemblyman, won unopposed as deputy president for the Muslim Bumiputera quota.

Other victorious candidates were Lumadan assemblyman Ruslan Muharam, who was elected as vice-president for the Muslim Bumiputera quota, Tandek assemblyman Hendus Anding as vice-president for the non-Muslim Bumiputera quota and the PBS candidate in Paginatan in the last state election, Arthur Sen Siong Choo as vice-president for the non-Bumiputera quota.

For appointed posts, Matuggong assemblyman Datuk Julita Majungki is the new secretary-general, Joniston is information chief, and Lu Kim Yen, treasurer-general.

Meanwhile, Joniston was taken aback by so many spoilt votes, adding it was a similar occurrence in almost all the other contests for the senior positions in the PBS polls.

“I’m a bit surprised with the 65 spoilt votes. The ballots were actually empty as the delegates didn’t mark anyone (as their preferred choice) so, I don’t know what happened.

“But I think it’s for the party to see what needs to be done in terms of making the delegates understand that it is important for them to make a decision. I can see that they couldn’t decide (on who they wanted as the deputy president),” he said.

Besides the race for the non-Muslim bumiputra deputy presidency, most of the contests for positions in the Supreme Council and as the vice presidents also had spoilt votes of 60 and above.

The highest was the contest for the non-Muslim bumiputra vice president slots with 70 spoilt votes recorded.

The lowest spoilt votes at 34 were recorded in the election for the Muslim bumiputra vice president positions as well as the deputy presidency for the Chinese quota.

Last Tuesday, Ongkili said this party election was a platform for identifying his potential successor as he plans to step down in three years’ time or earlier.