‘Hung’ Sabah assembly possible again despite close fight, says NGO

(FMT) – Society Empowerment and Economic Development of Sabah (SEEDS) chairman Arnold Puyok sees a “hung” state assembly still possible despite a fiercely contested state election on Sept 26.

Even though it looks like coalitions such as Barisan Nasional (BN), Perikatan Nasional (PN) and their allies are more popular, no clear picture has emerged on a frontrunner.

“We find that in terms of overall support, BN and its partners, such as PN, PBS, STAR and others, are more popular than Warisan and its allies,” he said.

“This shows that the state election will be very tight.

“But, so far, there is no clear picture of which alliance will win, and there is a big probability that the results will once again result in a hung assembly.”

He was speaking to reporters after a SEEDS seminar on the state elections here today.

BN won 29 of the 60 seats in the Sabah state assembly in the 2018 general election.

STAR, which contested as the opposition, won two seats and later joined BN to form the state government.

However, the government, led by Musa Aman, only survived for a day after Upko’s five elected representatives left BN to join Warisan and Pakatan Harapan to form the new state government.

Puyok said the polls will be all the more interesting because of the involvement of several local parties independent of the coalitions, such as Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) and Parti Liberal Demokratik (LDP).

“It seems that these parties are starting to get support in some areas, and parties that are considered ‘the third forces’ will probably play an important role as ‘kingmakers’ in determining the formation of the state government.”

Puyok also felt that voters’ sentiments about the current economic scenario will play a key role in their decision on who should form the Sabah government.

Apart from that, he said, the issue of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63), especially in relation to oil royalties, was also seen as an issue that voters would pay much attention to.

“Most respondents (in a SEEDS study) associate MA63 with oil royalties. Asked why, they said oil royalties are also related to the economic situation,” he said.

“This is because if we have high royalties, the government will have more income and it can be used to develop infrastructure and help communities which are facing economic hardship.

“For us, based on the available data, it seems that economic issues play a very important role,” he said of the study SEEDS conducted throughout Sabah from Aug 4 to 31.