Ali Biju has described his withdrawal from contesting the Krian state seat as a strategic decision, saying he is hopeful the gesture will be reciprocated by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) at the next general election.
“A victory for GPS is also a victory for me. If GPS wins, I win,” he said at a press conference in Saratok with Bersatu leaders Mohamed Azmin Ali and Rashid Hasnon.
He said the Bersatu leadership had already advised him not to contest the election, but that he had listened to the strong requests from the grassroots.
He said he hoped that his move to give way to GPS in Krian would be reciprocated at the next general election with Bersatu being allowed to contest the Saratok parliamentary seat.
He added that negotiations are ongoing at the top levels of leadership in both parties.
Ali, who won the Krian state seat on a PKR ticket in 2011 and 2016, had aimed to defend it for a third term as an independent in a four-way fight against GPS candidate Friday Belik, Musa Dinggat of Parti Sarawak Bersatu and Danny Kuan from Parti Bumi Kenyalang.
This followed Bersatu’s decision to sit out the election, with president Muhyiddin Yassin saying this was out of respect for the wishes of the GPS leadership.
Muhyiddin also said Bersatu had chosen to stay out of the contest because it believed GPS had the ability to win and that GPS had supported the Perikatan Nasional-led federal government when he was the prime minister.
Azmin meanwhile said he had been sent by Muhyiddin to explain Ali’s withdrawal to the people in Krian.
He said this was also to show appreciation to those who had been supporting Ali since he began serving as an assemblyman in 2011.
“We would like to thank Ali,” he said. “He made a great sacrifice to strengthen relations between GPS and Bersatu at the federal level.
“We are all well informed that GPS played a pivotal role when we formed a new government last year.”
Azmin also said Ali’s move would help realise the work done to recognise Sarawak and Sabah as equal partners as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
“There were discussions on an understanding between Muhyiddin and Abang Johari Openg to look at things from a bigger political framework,” he said.
“It is important to maintain our close relationship with GPS so that we can continue our mission to make sure that MA63 is implemented and to recognise Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners in the formation of Malaysia.”
Azmin also assured that the party would give its full support to all GPS candidates in the election.