KIMANIS, Jan 16 — In what was possibly the biggest turnout in the Kimanis by-election campaign so far, the “Himpunan Muafakat Rakyat Sabah” gathered federal and state Opposition to deliver one message: a vote for Warisan is a vote for the Sabah Temporary Pass (PSS).
The crowd gathered at the new Kimanis Commercial Centre open ground was the largest seen in the campaigning period so far, estimated at over 1,000 strong, a portion of whom were clad in Barisan Nasional (BN) blue.
Set up with “live” stage performances and food stalls, people started arriving as early as 7pm before speeches commenced an hour later.
The country’s Opposition was out in full force. Umno president Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Sabah Umno chief Datuk Bung Moktar Radin, MCA president Datuk Wee Ka Siong, Parti Bersatu Sabah premier adviser Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan and president Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah deputy president Arthur Kurup, PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan and former Kimanis MP Datuk Seri Anifah Aman were among those present.
The theme of the night was clear: to play up the issue of the PSS — a document for foreigners residing in Sabah — as much as possible.
Campaigning hard for BN’s candidate, Datuk Mohamad Alamin, all speakers listed reasons to fear or go against the PSS that they have been outlining throughout the first 12 days of the campaign period.
Pairin, in a rare public appearance, told the crowd that he never proposed the PSS or a resident pass, nor was it among the recommendations of a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into illegal immigrants in Sabah.
Pairin was likely responding to Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s statement recently that the PSS was a version of a proposal by the RCI that was recommended by the technical committee chaired by Pairin.
“I looked for it everywhere but I couldn’t find it. It’s not there. They said it started from BN but I did not see this,” he said.
Pairin said he was only heading the smaller of two committees and refuted proposing the pass.
“We didn’t accept the resident pass as a proposal,” he said, while adding that BN took some steps to address the illegal immigrant issue.
His statement was backed by Zahid, who reiterated that he was in charge of the main committee that Pairin reported to and denied discussing the PSS.
“I am the chairman of the main committee to review the recommendations from the technical committee. I want to fully deny the report that we had proposed the PSS. There are many former Cabinet ministers here who will attest that we never approved it,” he said.
Voting for the Kimanis by-election is on January 18.