KOTA KINABALU, Nov 11 — Incumbent Kota Marudu MP Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili has dismissed rivals’ claims that he was too sick and old to stand for election.

Instead, the Parti Bersatu Sabah president said doctors have given him a clean bill of health and declared him fit enough to contest, which he said he has been doing with fervour.

“I may be 69, but I can still run from the dogs if they charge at me,” he said while mimicking running motions on stage here.

The caretaker minister in charge of Sabah and Sarawak affairs, who suffered a stroke in 2020, told the crowd that he had sought medical advice prior to deciding to contest in the 15th general election.

“Before I made my decision to contest, I went through medical check-ups, went to the IJN (National Heart Foundation) and discussed it with specialists. Thank God, they told me I am well and fit to go for the campaigns.

“So, here I am, ladies and gentlemen, at your service,” said Ongkili.

Ongkili is contesting for Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) in a six-way fight for the Kota Marudu parliamentary seat. The seat is a PBS stronghold and he has held the seat since 2004, when it was renamed from Bandau.

His contenders are Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (PKDM) deputy president Datuk Wetrom Bahanda, Malaysia United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) Shahrizal Denci, Warisan’s Datuk Jilid Kuminding, Pejuang Tanah Air’s Mohd Azmie Zulkiflee and sole independent candidate, Norman Tulang.

It is speculated that this would be the toughest fight of Ongkili’s career, with his biggest rival being Wetrom, a former GRS ally from Bersatu who quit the party to contest in the seat.