KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — The Sabah state polls on Saturday (26 September) saw Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) obtaining a simple majority after gaining 38 out of 73 constituencies, as indicated by official results released by Malaysia’s Election Commission (SPR).
GRS comprises the Perikatan Nasional (PN) — led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin — and Barisan Nasional (BN) alliances, as well as state-based party Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).
SPR chairman Abdul Ghani Salleh in a statement on Sunday said that PN gained 17 seats, BN gained 14, and PBS gained 7.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) obtained two seats while United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (UPKO) obtained one.
Independent candidates gained three seats.
[ KENYATAAN MEDIA ]
KEPUTUSAN PENUH PENGUNDIAN PILIHAN RAYA UMUM DEWAN UNDANGAN NEGERI (PRU DUN) SABAH KE-16 pic.twitter.com/obZT9EiK62
— Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya Malaysia (@sprgovmy) September 26, 2020
Muhyiddin in a televised address said that GRS’ victory demonstrates the Sabahan people’s “confidence” in the coalition.
“I give my full commitment to the state government that will be formed soon, that it will have the full support of the federal government, which I lead as the prime minister, and that what I said during my time in Sabah, during the campaign period, God willing, we will deliver as soon as possible,” he said.
Previous Chief Minister and Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) president Shafie Apdal retained his Senallang constituency with a smaller majority compared to the one he obtained in the 14th general election in 2018.
In the Sabah by-election on Saturday, he garnered a majority of 4,631 votes. In contrast, he gained a majority of 5,909 votes in the 2018 general election.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday after the release of the official results, Shafie stressed that while GRS may have the simple majority, Warisan has obtained 29 seats, which makes it the single largest party in terms of the number of seats.
Warisan was included in a Warisan+ coalition alongside UPKO and Pakatan Harapan component parties PKR, Democratic Action Party and Parti Amanah Negara.
The Sabah state polls were called following the ceremonial head of state Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin’s decision to dissolve the state legislative assembly on 30 July after a meeting with Shafie.
Shafie’s move was pre-empted by former chief minister Musa Aman’s attempt to orchestrate a coup, which saw some 13 assemblymen ‘hopping parties’ to support the latter.
Musa was earlier acquitted and discharged of all 46 criminal charges — involving corruption and money laundering — made against him in connection to timber concessions contracts in Sabah after the prosecution decided to drop all such charges against him.
In June, Musa was accused of abusing his position during his tenure as Sabah chief minister and the chairman of Sabah Foundation Board of Trustees chairman by allegedly receiving US$50.1 million from eight logging concessionaires in exchange for approval of logging concessions to 16 companies.
Musa, who chairs the Sabah chapter of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), did not contest in the recent state election.
The “Sheraton Move” earlier this year saw Muhyiddin taking the mantle of Prime Minister from former premier Mahathir Mohamad following a power vacuum left by the latter’s resignation from the post. The event also catalysed the collapse of the PH government.
The PH coalition had earlier wrested power from Najib Razak’s BN administration in 2018, particularly after the former premier became mired in controversy over his alleged abuse of state-fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, among others. BN governed Malaysia for 61 years since the nation’s independence prior to the 2018 general election.
The political crisis earlier this year saw certain factions in the Malay-centric Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) — which is now led by Muhyiddin — and PKR attempting to form an alliance with Umno and other parties in a bid to establish a new government.
Mahathir was since ousted from Bersatu — the party he co-founded — leading him to establish a new Malay-centric party called Pejuang recently. Pejuang will be aligned with neither PN nor PH.
Muhyiddin has previously indicated on 18 September that GRS’ victory may serve as a precursor to the federal government’s decision in determining when to hold the 15th general election.
“The Sabah by-election determines the future of Sabah. At the national level we have yet to decide when to hold a general election … If we win in Sabah, then we ought to promptly hold a general election on a federal level,” he said.