PENAMPANG: Only time will tell if Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) will field a candidate in the Kimanis by-election next month.
If the local-based opposition party decided to contest, it would then crush Umno's desire to go for a straight fight with Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan).
Sabah Umno liason chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin said they have had discussion with its former BN ally with regards to the by-election, noting that it was "doing very well."
"What is in our mind now, as the opposition bloc, we have to work together to defeat candidate from PH and Warisan.
"Sabah Umno has its full autonomy already. I had a small discussion with PBS president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili and it looks very positive.
"We will work together to make sure BN candidate wins," he said when met at PBS Christmas and New Year Open House at the Hongkod Koisaan Hall here, today.
Bung said Sabah Umno has started working in Kimanis two months ago, pointing out that the party has an advantage compared to other parties.
Meanwhile, Ongkili said although there were talks between PBS and Umno, it was merely an "informal chit chat."
"Even the government also want to have a talk with to us but we have our own mind. As I said, we are still checking the sentiments on the ground.
"The (Kimanis parliament) constituency is quite multiracial, so party like us will always have a place.
"Being a multiracial party, if we can rope in between 2,000 and 3,000 Muslim voters from each constituency, we can be the kingmaker and decide who will win," he said.
Ongkili noted PBS has 30 branches each in Membakut and Bongawan, stressing senior leaders have started going to the ground to check on the sentiments.
Should they decided not to contest, he said PBS would only support candidate, who will fight for Sabah rights, Malaysian Agreement 1963, and against illegal immigrants - Sabah Temporary Pass (PSS) for that matter.
"We reject PSS because to us, it is a dangerous game. It's just legalising what is already illegal... We have said our stand and I believe, we can influence substantially whether we contest or not.
"Our vote is no to PSS as far as Kimanis by-election is concern. If Umno meets these criteria, we will support but then again we will have to know the candidate's background and whether he/she has been fighting for Sabah rights, " Ongkili reiterated.
When pressed on the current sentiments based on PBS observation, Ongkili refused to comment while noting the media would know come nomination day on Jan 4.
The early voting for Kimanis by-election is set on Jan 14, while polling day is fixed on Jan 18.
The by-election is being held after the Federal Court on Dec 1 upheld the Special Election Court's decision in August last year which nullified former Umno leader Datuk Seri Anifah Aman's victory in the GE14.
Anifah, who is now independent, retained his seat with 56-vote majority, securing 11,942 votes against Warisan candidate Datuk Karim Bujang’s 11,786 votes.
Another candidate, Jaafar Ismail of Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah, obtained 1,300 votes.