Unofficial: Joachim wins PBS deputy president post by a whisker

KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Dr Joachim Gunsalam has edged out Datuk Joniston Bangkuai in a closely contested race to become the new Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) deputy president for the non-Muslim bumiputra quota.

Unofficial results indicated that the 64-year-old Joachim, who is Deputy Chief Minister and previously the PBS vice-president, won the contest by a razor thin of five votes.

He secured 339 votes from the 741 delegates who cast their votes during the party polls on Thursday night (June 30).

Bangkuai, who was previously the PBS secretary-general, garnered 334 votes.

There were 68 spoilt votes.

Joachim’s victory sets him on the path of taking over the leadership of Sabah’s oldest party from incumbent president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili who told delegates he would retire in three years.

The deputy president position was left vacant after incumbent Datuk Radin Malleh declined to defend the position.

Ongkili, who was returned as president unopposed, is likely to decide in the coming days on Bangkuai’s position within the party amid calls to close their ranks following the tussle for the number two position.

Incumbent deputy president for the Muslim bumiputra slot was retained unopposed by Datuk Jahid Jahim, who is Sabah Rural Development Minister.

At the same time, Datuk Seri Dr Yee Moh Chai retained the deputy president post for the Chinese quota after garnering over a 200-vote majority against a challenge by former Tanjung Aru assemblyman Datuk Edward Yong Oui Fah.

He has held the post since 1994.

A total of 131 candidates vied for the five president and 16 supreme council member positions during the party polls.

It is not clear if a recount is being called but PBS officials indicated so far there was no request at 11.40pm.