30/01/2023 07:16 PM

KOTA KINABALU, Jan 30 (Bernama) -- UMNO president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has called for a “cooling-off period” to give all parties a better understanding of their differences while finding common ground to work out the best solution to the political crisis in Sabah.

Ahmad Zahid, who is deputy prime minister, said any settlement would need the mutual understanding of UMNO-Barisan Nasional (BN) and their political friends in the state.

"It (length of cooling-off period) is very subjective ... slowly but surely (resolution can be reached). If all parties want to seek a solution, we can sit behind closed doors and work out a solid settlement,” said the BN chairman.

During this period, all quarters should refrain from issuing any statements or making speculations which could hamper efforts to resolve the crisis, he told reporters after chairing a special meeting of Sabah UMNO here today.

Ahmad Zahid said all parties involved should be sincere in searching for the best approach to create a win-win situation for everyone, especially Sabah people themselves.

Ahmad Zahid said his presence in Sabah to tackle the issue showed that the UMNO and BN leaderships did not view the matter lightly and wanted to resolve it in the best way possible.

"There is no issue that cannot be resolved. We can take many approaches and ways but we understand that a resolution needs mutual understanding.

"In this matter, we definitely give priority to the agenda of Sabah people and also clearing up the existing confusion," he added.

Also present was Sabah UMNO chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, who is also Sabah BN chairman.

On Jan 6, Bung Moktar announced that Sabah BN had withdrawn support from Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) chairman Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor as the Chief Minister because Hajiji had allegedly violated an agreement on the formation of the Sabah state government after the 2020 state election.

Ahmad Zahid said a unity government in Sabah was among the methods of political settlement offered by BN as it involved not only Sabah government affairs but also unity government matters at the federal level.

Asked on the action to be taken against five UMNO assemblymen who gave their support to Hajiji and the Sabah government, Ahmad Zahid said this issue was discussed at today’s meeting and he was confident a good solution could be found later.

"The way of settlement lies with the UMNO Disciplinary Board, which will conduct an investigation before referring the matter to the UMNO supreme council for a decision,” he said.

Asked if he would meet Hajiji to seek a solution to the crisis, Ahmad Zahid said: "You all understand it very well."

The five UMNO assemblymen who support Hajiji and the state government are Datuk Shahelmey Yahya (Tanjung Keramat), Datuk James Ratib (Sugut), Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob (Sindumin), Datuk Jasnih Daya (Pantai Dalit) and Datuk Mohd Arsad Bistari (Tempasuk).

On Jan 10, Hajiji announced a reshuffle of the Sabah state Cabinet, which included appointing Shahelmey as Deputy Chief Minister III and James as Community Development and People’s Well-being Minister.


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