KOTA KINABALU: PBS today defended its decision to contest an extra seven seats in the state assembly elections and denied that the party was being greedy as charged by critics.
PBS secretary-general Jahid Jahim said: “We are taking a defensive position to secure our seats and ensure a win for Perikatan Nasional.”
He said the party had been prepared for friendly contests from the outset. “We expected multiple contests from partners and we were ready to defend our position,” he said in a statement here today.
PBS sprang a surprise on nomination day on Saturday after fielding candidates in seven additional seats on top of the 15 it had announced earlier, sparking further clashes between BN and PN parties.
In total, there will be clashes in 17 seats involving BN, PN and PBS.
Jahid said the subject of friendly contests was also raised previously at meetings on seat allocations with Perikatan Nasional and PPBM secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin in Kuala Lumpur and here.
He said at these meetings, it was found that it was impossible for partners to agree who should withdraw in areas decided by PN.
He disclosed that tempers were high at these two meetings headed by Hamzah, adding they were all unable to find a common ground. Hence, they failed to obtain an agreement from any partner to withdraw from contesting.
“We expected the open contests, but the real question here is ‘siapa radu siapa’ (who went against who)?”
Jahid said the subject of friendly contests was also highlighted in a statement by BN secretary-general Annuar Musa, who had anticipated multiple contests for seats.
At the seat negotiations, STAR president Jeffrey Kitingan had openly told PBS deputy president Radin Malleh that PBS could contest under its own symbol in seats that the party would not let go, Jahid said.
He stressed that PBS had told the public, through the media, that the party had tried very hard to avoid multiple contests, even on a friendly basis.
“We believe that this matter is important to avoid giving an edge to our opponents. But as we said, we did our best to avoid the problem.
“A day before nominations, our intelligence and senior leaders monitoring the (15) constituencies allocated to us found that colleagues and partners of BN and PN were going for our necks by putting up candidates and independents for open friendly contests. It was clear to see,” Jahid said.
For example, Jahid said in the three PBS seats of Tandek, Matunggong and Kadamaian, PBRS (a BN component) went head-to-head with PBS despite the fact that both parties are PN/BN allies.
“Meanwhile, Umno went against PBS candidate Radin Malleh in Melalap and three others in Bengkoka, Tanjung Aru and Telupid, while Sabah MCA openly clashed with us in Kapayan and Karamunting.
“As for STAR, it turned out that they had prepared themselves very well and put up independents using several of their division chiefs in Bengkoka (through Pransol Tiying), Tandek (Anita Baranting), Matunggong (Paul Porodong) and Api-Api (Marcel Jude Joseph).
“PBS was left with hardly any constituency that was not contested by PN or BN partners. However, we are taking it all in the good spirit of a friendly contest,” he said.
Altogether, PBS has 15 “friendly-fire seats” against BN and PN allies.
Jahid said, however, there was still time and that PBS would be evaluating its position before polling day on Sept 26.
“Before Sabahans cast their votes, PBS is open to sitting down for the sake of discussion and seeking a compromise to see who is the best torch-holder for PN.
“In the meantime, it is campaign time and an opportunity to meet the people to check out our respective strengths and to hear their voices.
“PBS will continue to strengthen our preparations and move together to represent the people as the government of Sabah.
“Although there are multi-cornered fights among colleagues, we will ensure that it is kept friendly and that the best partners win for PN,” he said.