Salleh plays down ‘dark horse candidate’ talk, says victory is all that matters
(FMT) – Salleh Said Keruak has played down talk that he could be in the running as an alternative chief minister candidate if Barisan Nasional and its allies win the coming state polls.
Political observers say Salleh is the “dark horse candidate” for the hot seat as a compromise to a potential dispute between BN and Perikatan Nasional, who are expected to push Sabah BN chief Bung Moktar Radin and Sabah PPBM chief Hajiji Noor respectively to be the chief minister if the opposition forms the next state government.
The observers agree that with Salleh as the shadow chief minister candidate, it could diffuse a potentially damaging internal fight between BN and PN.
But Salleh, who was the Sabah chief minister from 1994 to 1996, distanced himself from such suggestions, saying he preferred to concentrate on the task at hand.
“That issue (dark horse candidate) does not arise at all,” he said, adding, “my job is to win and defend the Usukan seat because this is the birthplace of Umno (in Sabah)”.
He said who becomes the chief minister is secondary for now, adding he is working with everyone, particularly Bung as well as Hajiji, to ensure victory for the opposition and to unseat Warisan Plus as the government.
“In any case, we are not interested who’s going to be the next CM. What’s important is team work.
“We are interested in creating a team that will be able to ensure Sabah will not be left behind in terms of development,” Salleh said.
Political observers say Salleh is a viable choice given his vast experience as a former chief minister, as well as previously holding other high-placed positions such as federal minister, former Umno treasurer-general and as an Umno Supreme Council member.
He was among the senior Umno leaders criticised for ditching the party in December 2018. He later applied to join PKR but this move was met with objections from members.
Salleh subsequently cancelled the application last April and applied to rejoin Umno the next month.
All seems to have been forgiven and forgotten now after Bung named him as BN’s candidate to stand in Usukan.
Today, Salleh made sure he is in the people’s good graces once more after issuing a public apology over his “past mistake” during a ceramah in Kampung Timbang Dayang here.
Besides Bung, former prime minister Najib Razak was also among those present.