Sabah Election: Test of solidarity within Muafakat Nasional


THE Sabah State Election, which is set to take place on Sept 26 will be the second test to gauge Muafakat Nasional’s (MN) amicability and solidarity after its excellent performance in the Slim state by-election last Saturday.

Political observers and analysts opine that greater challenges await the coalition in Sabah, taking into account several issues including the selection of candidates as well as seats overlapping and measures taken to resolve them to satisfy all component parties.

Political analyst Prof Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod said issues pertaining to seat allocation would definitely be the focus in the MN camp as UMNO, PAS and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) would feel slighted if their candidates are not selected.

“Disputes over seat allocation are inevitable. However, Barisan Nasional’s (BN) experience over the matter should be utilised to ensure fairness to all.

“Other parties in MN should also agree on this. If this issue is resolved, the seat distribution is no longer a big issue,” he told Bernama.

MN co-secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa was reported as saying that the coalition has agreed to accept Bersatu on the basis to unite the Malays and build the core strength of the Malay-Muslim group.

Last Tuesday, Annuar tweeted UMNO, PAS and Bersatu have agreed to discuss on seat allocation for the bloc and draft a joint manifesto for the general election besides expressing its support towards the current government under the leadership of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The coalition has proven its unity without any dispute over seat allocation or overlapping of candidates when BN managed to retain the Slim state seat with a vast majority of 10,945 votes.

International Islamic University Malaysia law lecturer Prof Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod said the Sabah state election would serve as a platform for MN to prove whether it could translate the same success, particularly in terms of the political stability of the Malays and Islam.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Geostrategist Prof Dr Azmi Hassan said the decision and acceptance over the selection of candidates, logo and manifesto for the Sabah state election would determine whether the coalition is capable of facing the 15th General Election (GE15) as an entity.

“PN (Perikatan Nasional) and MN need to decide and resolve the issue because the existence of these two entities not only confuses voters but makes it difficult (for the coalition) to discuss on the distribution of seats. It is difficult for PN and MN to differentiate because the main players of these two entities are the same.

Another political analyst from Universiti Utara Malaysia Md Shukri Shuaib said the agreement no to fight for seats in the Sabah state election could relieve tensions among the parties.

He said that it was also a good sign that disputes over power and position were not serious in MN and PN, especially between Bersatu and UMNO, thus showing their maturity towards realising professional democracy and political brotherhood.

“The mutual agreement is timely. The majority of people, especially the Malays and Bumiputera want the Malay and Bumiputera political parties in power to unite.

On July 30, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal announced the dissolution of the state legislative assembly to pave the way for state elections.