Upko flaunts Dompok’s aide for Sepanggar
Umno, PBS, LDP and PBRS have staked a claim on the Sepanggar parliamentary seat but Upko says it is theirs.
KOTA KINABALU: The United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) is cranking up the pressure on the state Barisan Nasional leadership to contest the Sepanggar MP seat for the coalition in the coming general election.
In a less than subtle theatrics, Sepanggar Upko chief Steven Kutai offered the constituency to party president Bernard Dompok in place of their rising star Albert Bingkasan who is said to be eyeing the seat.
Dompok, who is Federal Plantation Industry and Commodities Minister, as expected, declined, saying that it was best to field a candidate from the Sepanggar Upko division and he would be defending his Penampang seat.
The byplay gave the party general convention that was held on Sunday the opportunity to unanimously adopt a motion to be presented to the state BN leadership for its leader to contest the Sepanggar seat.
Kutai, who spoke at the one-day convention, told the over 1,000 delegates that Sepanggar had been a BN stronghold with Upko having the largest number of members in the constituency, which encompasses the state seats of Inanam and Karambunai, compared to other BN components.
The two state seats make up the Sepanggar parliamentary seat. Inanam has 12 polling districts and Karambunai 11. The total number of voters, according to the latest electoral rolls, is 47,836.
Half of the polling districts are considered KDM (KadazanDusun Murut) areas.
The seat was won by BN through Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) in the 2004 and 2008 general elections but the Kadazandusun majority constituency is now in opposition hands after SAPP pulled out from BN on Sept 17, 2008.
Incumbent MP Eric Majimbun is deputy president of the party. He polled 16,884 votes against PKR’s Mohd Ibrahim Abdullah 5,423 while Edward Ewol Mujie of DAP obtained 3,709 votes.
Though Kutai, as party chief in Sepanggar, should be the candidate by convention, he has said he would not be standing in the coming election and is proposing his deputy Bingkasan as the nominee for the post.
Everyone wants Sepanggar
Bingkasan, 48, who initially studied for the priesthood and worked for a few years in the media industry, is one of Dompok’s senior aides in Parliament and in the ministry. He is married to Nelly Henry James and they have four children.
Addressing the delegates at its closing, the would-be freshman MP said the resolution adopted for Upko to contest Sepanggar was in line with the resolution by Upko 13th triennial delegates conference last year.
Dompok brushed aside murmurs that the party was not following BN protocol by overtly grasping for seats.
“It is not wrong to request because we are in a democracy. Requests are the norm when it is election time and there are times when even seats which are held by a component party will also be requested by another party.
“For instance, Upko seats that we have in our pocket are being requested for. But it is up to the BN central leadership to decide which party should get the seats, not only in Sepanggar but also in the other constituencies,” he said.
The other BN component parties to have laid claim to the constituency are Umno, PBS, LDP and PBRS.