‘There will be no political tsunami in Sabah’

Salleh observed that PKR also lacked credible Kadazandusun leaders and “no credible Muslim-Bumiputera leaders to strengthen Muslim support in PKR”.

(Bernama) – Najib Tun Razak, the architect of numerous government transformation programmes and 1Malaysia concept, is the preferred choice of Sabahans to continue as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, said Sabah Legislative Assembly Speaker Salleh Said Keruak.

He also reiterated that “there will be no political tsunami hitting Sabah in the upcoming general election”.

He said this was evident from strong grassroots support and large turnout to welcome Najib during his recent visit to Sabah to drum up support, ahead of the crucial general election that has been called “the mother of all battles”

Salleh said this was consistent with the findings of a recent survey conducted by the Merdeka Centre, rating Najib’s popularity amongst Sabahans at the comfortable level of more than 70 per cent.

“With the magic touch of Najib’s 1Malaysia concept in transforming the country for a better future, I believe the voters will return BN in the 13th general election to continue to rule Sabah with a comfortable majority.

“Having said that, I do not think polls tsunami will hit Sabah,” he said in his lecture, entitled “Malaysian 2013 General Election: Will Polls Tsunami Hit Sabah?, to the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, today.

Salleh said the 13th general election was an important election for the ruling BN as “it is perceived as a test to Najib’s popularity as he needs a strong mandate to continue to rule Malaysia”.

The former chief minister expressed confidence that although the state BN component parties – PBS (Parti Bersatu Sabah), LDP (Liberal Democratic Party), UPKO (United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation), PBRS (Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah) MCA and Gerakan are likely to face a tough challenge in certain areas from the opposition, BN will win the Sabah state election, with “Umno is expected to retain all the 32 seats it currently holds”.

PKR lacked credible leaders

According to Salleh, his confidence was based on several factors, including the failure of the opposition in Sabah to form a strong pact and the absence of a strong Chinese leader in the opposition.

Salleh observed that PKR also lacked credible Kadazandusun leaders and “no credible Muslim-Bumiputera leaders to strengthen Muslim support in PKR”.

Apart from Pakatan Rakyat (PKR, PAS and DAP), there are two other opposition parties

namely Sabah-based SAPP (Sabah Progressive Party) and Sarawak-based State Reform Party (STAR), and for now, it appears both Pakatan Rakyat and SAPP or STAR will fight each other rather than one-to-one fights against the ruling coalition.

He said there were 25 parliamentary seats and 60 state seats at stake in Sabah, and of the 25 parliamentary seats, 20 are currently held by BN and five by the opposition.

Salleh said of the 25 parliamentary seats, 11 are Muslim-Bumiputera majority, eight Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) seats, two Chinese and four mixed seats respectively while out of the 60 state seats, 31 are Muslim-Bumiputera majority, 17 are KDM-majority, eight are Chinese-majority, and four are mixed seats.

During 2008 general election, Sabah BN nearly made a clean sweep, winning 59 of 60 state seats and 24 of 25 parliamentary seats contested. However, SAPP left the BN on Sept 17, 2008.

He said with Sabah’s contribution of 24 parlimentary seats, the state had since been regarded as BN’s “stronghold or fixed deposit” and is expected to be the frontline battleground for the 13th general election, particularly in urban and suburb areas.

Pairin Kitingan still strong

On the recent establishment of the much-awaited Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI)on illegal immigrants that was well-received by political leaders and the people alike in Sabah, he described it as a step in the right direction which symbolised the federal government’s seriousness in tackling the perennial problem.

Expressing optimism about the ruling BN’s chances in the coming general election, Salleh said the

opposition in Sabah appeared to be “organisationally and structurally weak” as evident from their failure to form a united force to take on the giant size of BN machinery.

“The “Semenanjung Agenda” vs “Borneo Agenda” has deepened the animosity between the Pakatan Rakyat and the United Borneo Front (UBF),” he added.

Salleh stressed that the Kadazandusun Murut community support for charismatic Joseph Pairin

Kitingan remains firm as many have shunned STAR Sabah Chapter chairman Jeffrey Kitingan’s “Sabah for Sabahans” battle cry.

“The show of unity by Pairin, Joseph Kurup and Bernard Dompok recently is a symbolic gesture

that all the Kadazandusun leaders are prepared to set aside their differences to ensure a big win for the BN,” he said, adding the opposition had failed to establish itself as an alternative party to BN in Sabah.