KOTA KINABALU, Sept 22 — With four days to go to polling, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) have finally reached a compromise in at least two state seats.
As election campaigning picks up speed, the two parties allied as the Opposition bloc under the greater Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) banner today announced a mutual decision to “withdraw” their respective candidates and support their other political partners in election to prevent diminishing their collective votes on September 26.
PBS secretary-general Datuk Jahid Jahim said his party’s candidates in Tambunan and Bingkor will give way to STAR, which is a component of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition.
STAR president Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan said that in return, two independent candidates linked to his party in two other constituencies, Bengkoka and Api Api, will now punt for PBS.
“I believe that this will be a big impact to other seats and we will take this message on the ground to our supporters to modify their campaign and support a single GRS candidate,” Kitingan said at a news conference here after signing the agreement today.
Silverus Bruno from PBS will now support Kitingan in the six-cornered fight for Tambunan.
Peter Ginu Alion, also from PBS, will back Robert Tawik from STAR for the Bingkor seat.
The independent candidates linked to STAR — Akien Ahkiew for Bengkoka and Marcel Jude Joseph for Api Api — are said to have also promised their support.
However, Ahkiew was not present at the signing of the agreement and the subsequent news conference.
The “political withdrawal” means that the six overlapping seats have been reduced to four. They are: Moyog, Paginatan, Tulid and Liawan.
STAR was previously reported to have backed independent candidates in Tandek, Matunggong, Kiulu, Api Api, Inanam and Bengkoka.
Within GRS, the number of clashes involving three component parties now remains at 15 seats.
PN secretary-general Datuk Hamzah Zainudin said the coalition is still discussing four seat overlaps between STAR and PBS.
“We are still negotiating, I spoke to the secretary-general of BN, they’re now talking to their own people and once we agree to certain terms we will do that,” he said.
GRS is a loose alliance comprising local parties PBS, STAR and Sabah Progressive Party, as well as PN component Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and BN components Umno, MCA and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS).
BN and PBS were clashing in 12 seats while Bersatu and PBS each fielded their own candidates in seven seats.
Bersatu and BN overlapped in three seats.
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