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Sabah election: PN poster in? BN poster out?

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Perikatan Nasional will find it challenging to allocate seats for its coalition parties to contest in the state election, M Krishnamoorthy writes.

What will the poster branding be like for the six-party coalition in the Sabah state election? Perikatan Nasional or Barisan Nasional?

If a photo of stacks of posters of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his PN coalition that has gone viral is genuine and not fake, then it is PN. [The authenticity of this photo has not yet been confirmed or denied.]

This could mean the exit of the BN poster after 46 years in Sabah.

In the unverified photo, a poster stuck on each stack has a portrait of Muhyiddin, below which is written “UNDILAH” followed by the PN logo with an “X” next to it. Two hashtags – #abahkitabah and #kitajagakita – appear at the bottom.

A political analyst said the poster was agreed by the coalition led by PN.

PN will be up against the caretaker ruling coalition Warisan Plus, which comprises Warisan, PKR, DAP and Upko.

A total of 73 seats will be up for grabs in the coming state election, compared to 60 during the 2018 general election.

Talks on the distribution of seats to be contested among Sabah PN parties – Sabah Bersatu, Pas, Sabah Star and the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), BN and Parti Bersatu Sabah – are in the final stages.

On the other side, caretaker Sabah Chief Minister and Warisan president Shafie Apdal said only the best candidates would be chosen for Warisan Plus to ensure they earn the people’s mandate.

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According to a columnist for the Star: “Compared to the main opposition alliance, Warisan Plus has a more manageable task in dividing the seats among the four parties, unless PKR throws a spanner in the discussion.

“For the opposition alliance, there’s intense competition between Umno and Bersatu to field candidates in the same seat, especially in the Muslim-majority seats.

“The defection of 16 Umno assemblymen compounds it. Many of these assemblymen have joined Bersatu which didn’t contest in the Sabah state polls in GE14.”

According to Bernama, Pas will contest in about 10 seats in the election, said party secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan. “We want to contest in about 10 constituencies, including Tawau and Kalabakan which were traditionally contested by Pas.

“We are still discussing (seat allocation); the important thing is Perikatan Nasional wants to avoid contests involving three or more candidates, which have proven detrimental to us before,” he said.

Seat allocation and agreement among PN coalition parties will be a sensitive issue because a new coalition is contesting in Sabah. “It will be a case of patience, compromise and level-headed agreement on the seats and who gets it,” said a political science lecturer.

The Election Commission has set 12 September for nominations and 26 September for polling. Just over 1.1 million registered voters are eligible to cast their ballots.

M Krishnamoorthy has worked as a journalist for 35 years with a string of international media organisations and taught journalism in local universities and colleges. He is the author of People Power Saves Malaysia on the watershed 2018 general election.

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