Shafie says could’ve courted GPS MPs to become first East Malaysian PM if he had Pakatan’s support

Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said it was not easy for him to convince ‘a few’ members of Gabungan Parti Sarawak as he did not have any endorsement from Pakatan Harapan block. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said it was not easy for him to convince ‘a few’ members of Gabungan Parti Sarawak as he did not have any endorsement from Pakatan Harapan block. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUCHING, Aug 21 ― Former Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said he had communicated with “a few” members of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) to get their support for him to be a prime minister candidate representing East Malaysia.

However, he said it was not easy for him to convince them as he did not have any endorsement from the Pakatan Harapan (PH) block.

“Had it been like if you were the one going to be nominated with that particular bloc of votes [from GPS], you know, I could be in a better position,” he said in a virtual interview with comedian Harith Iskander last night.

“On top of that, I think, which I don't want to mention then, that they were not comfortable working with a certain group which is within [PH’s] umbrella so I think it is indeed an obstacle as well.

“But I think we should unwind this in the future for the betterment of the country,” Shafie, who is Parti Warisan Sabah president, said.

Asked if the result would have been any different if PH had agreed for him to be the candidate as opposed to Anwar, he said it could have been done with the support from MPs from Bersatu, former PKR members as well as from Umno.

“They were quite close to me as well. And also some from Sarawak. You know it could have been otherwise.

“This is something I don’t want to dwell on and I don't want to be seen as if I should be the one. It is already a done deal and we must move on,” Shafie said.

He said he will do his level best in future to ensure how best to engage, strengthen and rationalise to them on the need to look beyond whatever it is, for the betterment of the country.

He said he is not a stranger to Sarawak, saying that when he was the Minister of Rural Development, he had been helping Sarawakians, like building longhouses and all other infrastructures.

“I know them quite well and so I did communicate with quite a few of them. I did try. It is not a question I didn’t try,” he said.

He thought that it was timely to provide that leadership in the country where East Malaysians can become a prime minister, and it is based on merit.

“And I supposed I am not saying I am better than the rest. But why not, after serving this country for more than 30 years plus, I thought it is time for politicians from Sabah or Sarawak, for that matter, to become the leader of the country.

“You have seen prime ministers coming from Kedah, Pahang, Johor and Penang and why not from Sabah or Sarawak?” he asked.

Shafie said he decided to give way to PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as a nominee from the PH block after a lengthy discussion with his colleagues from PH and Parti Pejuang Tanah Air.

“So I decided we should not divide the Opposition bloc, so there is a need for us to be united and ensure that we can have a win,” he said, adding that he is not obsessed with becoming the prime minister.

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