MEMBAKUT - An ally party of Malaysia's ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) on Thursday (Jan 2) named its candidate for a closely-watched by-election in Sabah state on Jan 18, the first to be held in the new year.
Parti Warisan Sabah named former assemblyman Karim Bujang to stand in the Kimanis parliamentary by-election, a seat now held by opposition party Umno.
Nomination is on Saturday (Jan 4).
The Sabah by-election has been called after the apex Federal Court nullified the victory of Umno's Anifah Aman, a former foreign minister, in the May 2018 general election due to electoral irregularities.
Datuk Karim, 66, lost in the 2018 polls to Datuk Seri Anifah by a slim 156 votes, and later filed a petition to the courts citing several irregularities. Mr Anifah, who left Umno after the general election, has said he won't be contesting in the by-election.
There have been nine-by-elections at both parliamentary and state levels since the May 2018 general election.
PH won in five by-elections and Umno-led BN the remaining four.
Umno on Wednesday (Jan 1) named another former Sabah assemblyman, Datuk Mohamad Alamin, 47, as its candidate for Kimanis.
"Alamin was my junior... I think looking at sentiments and local feelings, I am confident we can deliver," Mr Karim said, as quoted by Malay Mail online news.
Warisan works closely with the four-party PH, but isn't a formal member of the coalition.
It has 10 MPs, with three of them full ministers in the Mahathir Mohamad Cabinet - International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking, Tourism Minister Mohamaddin Ketapi and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law) Liew Vui Keong.
Warisan and the PH parties also control the Sabah state assembly, with Warisan president Mohd Shafie Apdal the Sabah Chief Minister.
The Kimanis contest is closely watched amid deflated support for PH in past months that had resulted in Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) notching four electoral wins last year (2019).
The governing coalition, on the other hand, only won in one by-election in 2019 - in a Chinese-majority seat in Sabah state.
BN has also been buoyed in recent months by the close cooperation between Umno and its former nemesis Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), which has swung Malay voters behind Umno's candidates.