Zahid says Sabah election will put power back in voters’ hands

(MMO) – The early Sabah state election announced today will again empower voters to choose the state’s leadership, Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.

Despite earlier announcing that his party will not join Perikatan Nasional, and instead reinforce Muafakat Nasional, Zahid also said the latter platform will not be used in the campaign for the state.

“For me and Umno, the political crisis in Sabah has to be resolved. Although the efforts to form a new government was denied with the Sabah chief minister’s advice to the Sabah governor TYT to dissolve the state legislative assembly, the reality is that this dissolution returns the power to the public for the public to determine the new mandate to be given,” he said in a press conference shortly after his trial proceedings at the Kuala Lumpur court complex.

“But I hope that what is happening in Sabah will become a lesson for other states, as the priority of the public should be underlined so that crises like this will not happen, as there have been a few incidents not in favour of the public. And the public should be prioritised in any resolution of any government instability at the state level or at the federal level,” he added.

Zahid was asked to comment on caretaker Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal’s announcement that he has today obtained Sabah Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin’s consent to dissolve the state legislative assembly.

Shafie has been the chief minister of Sabah since the May 2018 elections with the state government formed of Parti Warisan Sabah and Pakatan Harapan leaders.

Shafie’s announcement today foiled predecessor Tan Sri Musa Aman’s bid to take over the Sabah state government by getting lawmakers to defect from Shafie’s side.

Musa yesterday announced that he had secured the support of enough Sabah state lawmakers to form a simple majority in the state assembly and indicated that he could take over.

The prosecution last month dropped 46 corruption and money-laundering charges against Musa, who is also formerly Sabah Umno chief.

On the decision not to use Muafakat as a election platform in Sabah, Zahid explained that this was because the alliance did not have a presence in the state.

“There is no Muafakat Nasional in Sabah for now, but we have BN Sabah and we also have Umno Sabah. Umno Sabah has already been given autonomy, so I will discuss especially with the leadership of Umno Sabah and also Tan Sri Musa Aman himself and other friends that lead Sabah political parties together with BN,” he said.

On whether he thought the Sabah snap polls would proceed amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Zahid said he believed that both the Health Ministry and the Election Commission would have suitable standard operating procedures for the elections, noting that the recent Chini by-election was conducted smoothly with all SOPs fully complied with.