KOTA KINABALU, Oct 20 — Parti Warisan Sabah’s biggest competition Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) has announced that it will not be contesting its traditional Batu Sapi seat in the upcoming by-election, most likely paving the way for the former to retain the seat uncontested.
PBS president Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili said that although the party believes it still has a strong following in Batu Sapi where its candidates held the seat for four terms since its inception, the decision came from the party’s political bureau which took into account the worsening Covid-19 situation in Sabah.
“Sabah continues to record the highest number of Covid-19 positive cases in the country. Our numbers hit three digits in the last few days, where on Sunday alone, we recorded 702 new cases.
“And it was due to the severity of the Covid-19 situation that PBS decided to back out from contesting in our stronghold seat. As a multiracial party, PBS has continued to enjoy a strong following and huge membership in Batu Sapi,” said the minister in charge of Sabah and Sarawak Affairs.
Ongkili said that he has informed Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin of his decision.
Ongkili also said that he does not know whether other partners in the GRS government will be contesting the seat, but maintained that PBS would support any eventual PN plus candidate and ensure a win in the Batu Sapi by-election.
Most partners in the GRS government — Barisan Nasional’s Umno, MCA, PBRS, PN’s Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku and SAPP, PAS — as well as independent Parti Cinta Sabah said it would not contest the seat in the east coast adjacent to Sandakan.
Only Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia has yet to make an announcement of its decision.
The Batu Sapi parliamentary seat was declared vacant following the passing of its Member of Parliament Datuk Liew Vui Keong of Warisan due to a lung infection on October 2.
The Election Commission has declared November 23 as nomination day, while polling will be on December 5.
The Batu Sapi seat was held by PBS’s Datuk Edmund Chong Ket Fah since 2004 for two terms before his death in 2010 by a road accident while he was on a motorbike. The post was then held by his wife Datin Linda Tsen until she lost to Liew in 2018’s GE14.
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