KOTA KINABALU (July 2): Barisan Nasional (BN) will be extra careful when negotiating seats with its state partner Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) for the 15th general election.
Ita chairman, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, said that BN will leave it to BN Sabah to sit down with GRS and articulate some of the issues including the allocation of seats.
“But I think the dynamics of politics in Sabah has to be entertained. I think they are going to report to us when the time permits them to get decisions from national leader, Tok Mat and me will sit down with Bung Moktar and BN Sabah leadership because what was happening during the state election in Sabah was that we were kind of being cornered.
“I don’t think we should be experiencing another similar situation, being cornered politically. It would not benefit us so we have to be more careful and we have to be in the position of having the upper hand.
“I think the rakyat as a whole will be coming back to BN. We must translate the sentiment of support and emotions into votes rather than everything based on feelings and eventually no empirical study(s) will be proving that the rakyat are really supporting BN, especially BN candidates,” he said to reporters after officiating the BN Sabah convention in Penampang on Saturday.
Ahmad Zahid disclosed that Barisan Nasional (BN) Sabah is now known as BN Sabah, a special entity that will be the platform to bring together political parties in the state that still want to be with the coalition.
These parties are other than those currently in BN such as Umno and PBRS which are the core parties of the coalition. Ahmad Zahid disclosed that the coalition’s supreme council had, in November 2020, decided that BN Sabah will be known as BN Sabah.
“A few clauses in BN national’s constitution on the issue of BN Sabah allowed this and the matter will be brought up to the coalition’s supreme council so that it can be implemented,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid said that this was done following the amendment to Umno’s constitution which gave the Umno Sabah autonomy and BN Sabah was set up to ensure the continuity of the autonomy.
The Umno president however stressed that while BN Sabah will not have the same level of autonomy as Umno Sabah, the BN Sabah chairman and leadership will be calling the shots on several matters as they have a better understanding of the political situation and landscape in the state, he said.
“Members contesting for BN Sabah (in the 15th general election) will still be determined by the national leadership,” he said but he did not reveal how many seats BN will be contesting.
He described the political landscape and situation in Sabah as very dynamic thus any changes that are and will be happening will be adjusted by the BN Sabah leadership.
“We at the BN national leadership, will continue to monitor the new dynamics in the state’s political scene. After this convention leaders from BN central leadership and BN Sabah will be going to the six zones in the state to strengthen the machinery in all core parties,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid also disclosed that four parties including one from Sabah have applied to join BN and this reflected their support and confidence in the coalition.
“We have not decided yet but we are giving them due consideration,” he said.
He also said that BN will be looking into details of its halatuju together with the new deal and new offer to voters in Sabah.
“Other than the BN’s national manifesto I am confident that the one offered by BN Sabah will be a bit different as it will be done to suit the needs of voters in Sabah,” he said, adding that they will also be looking into BN’s relationship with Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS).
“I will leave this to BN Sabah as they have a better understanding of the political landscape of the state,” he said.
Meanwhile BN Sabah liaison chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin when asked if their relations with PBS, a component of GRS, will be affected said, “no.
He also said BN Sabah and GRS are still in discussions about several issues including political cooperation.
The Umno Sabah chairman also said that BN Sabah will be going down to the ground to strengthen the coalition before continuing with the negotiations and stressed, “if we are strong, people will respect our negotiations but if we are weak, we will get bullied.
“The discussions are still ongoing and this includes seat allocation,” he said.
To the question if BN Sabah will be going into the 15th general election (GE15) by itself should the negotiations fail, Bung Moktar replied, “we have five options” but declined to elaborate further.
In his speech earlier Ahmad Zahid said that if BN is given the mandate in the GE15 to form the government, he will ensure that the individual that is chosen from the coalition to be Prime Minister will ensure that Sabah is not left behind in development.
“I will make sure that the Prime Minister from BN will expedite the completion of the Pan Borneo highway within five years. We will also look into the way allocation is given to the state governments, especially Sabah.
“We will formulate a new method that will see the allocation channelled directly to the state government instead of the implementing agencies,” he said, adding that the BN government will also implement measures to resolve perennial issues that Sabah is facing.
Ahmad Zahid opined that Sabah needs a new development agenda and the Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) halatuju will not be successful without it.
The BN government, he said, has two agendas that it will put focus on, one to develop the state’s economic, tourism and maritime potential and the other is to grab the opportunities that will come with the relocation of Indonesia’s capital to Kalimantan.
He also said that borneonization will be supported by BN Sabah so that the state will enjoy the spillover from the move.