KIMANIS (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Sabah Umno has named a local leader as its candidate for the Jan 18 by-election in the Kimanis parliamentary constituency, the 10th by-election to be called since the May 2018 general election.
The four-party Pakatan Harapan (PH) ruling coalition is expected to field a candidate from its Sabah ally, Parti Warisan Sabah.
Nomination is on Saturday (Jan 4).
Kimanis - the first by-election in the new year - 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 Sarawak 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.
Sabah Umno on Wednesday (Jan 1) named a former Sabah assemblyman, Mohamad Alamin, 47, as its candidate for the by-election.
Datuk Mohamad is Umno Kimanis' division chief.
The 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.
There have been nine-by-elections at both parliamentary and state levels since the 2018 general election.
PH won in five by-elections and Umno-led BN the remaining four.
For Sabah Umno, a win in Kimanis is very important as its bank of lawmakers was severely deflated following the general election. Sabah Umno in December 2018 lost six MPs, nine state assemblymen and two senators. Many defected to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, a PH component party.