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Revolts looming in Sabah BN

By Luke Rintod of FMT
Umno-led Sabah Barisan Nasional has taken things too
much for granted in Sabah and this time, with the
impending general election, the state may be
fertile ground for revolts and back-stabbings
KOTA KINABALU: If the virulent exchanges among Sabah Barisan Nasional component parties are to be taken seriously, then back-stabbing, revolts and open challenges will be a common scene in the coming general election in Sabah.

Already at each other’s throat is the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Umno leaders close to Chief Minister Musa Aman.

Sandakan Umno Youth has stated that it will not support LDP president, VK Liew, if he seeks re-election in Sandakan, a stronghold of Musa.

LDP, formerly helmed by Chong Kah Kiat, who, political observers believe, still has a hand in the party, does not have a working relationship with Umno in Kudat.

It is Chong’s hometown and current LDP secretary-general Teo Chee Kang, the Tanjung Kapur assemblyman, is having a tough time with Umno leaders there who are aligned to Musa.

The fallout between LDP and Musa can be traced back to when Musa put a stop to a Chong-inspired project to erect the world’s tallest Mazu (a sea goddess) statue in Kudat.

Parts of the statue are still laying at its original site in Kudat till this day.

LDP-Gerakan war

In addition to its quarrel with Musa and Umno, the Chinese-based LDP also has a problem with Gerakan, another peninsula-based BN component party.

Gerakan has demanded that it be given the chance to represent BN in the constituencies formerly held by Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), which is now in the opposition in Sabah.

LDP in turn wants all the constituencies gained by Gerakan through defections to be returned
to them and has also laid claim to SAPP’s seats as the only local Chinese-based party in the state BN.

Leaders within the BN circle are also worried about possible revolts in Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Umno’s strongest ally in Sabah.

“While PBS is very reliable in garnering support from the Kadazandusun-Murut community for BN, this time impatient leaders might be tempted to go against their own party’s pick,” said a component leader who did not want to be identified.

These “impatient” PBS leaders include divisional chairmen and deputy chairmen who are well into their 50s and who have always cried foul over a myriad of domestic issues, including the perennial problem of the large presence of illegal immigrants from the southern Philippines and Indonesia and the lack of power-sharing in an Umno-dominated Sabah.

Some have named PBS divisional chairman for Sook, Bernard Maraat, as a potential rebel to stand as an independent in the coming election.

Revolts within PBS

Maraat, the popular highly-educated Murut, was formerly with Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) but had since joined PBS and was elected its divisional chairman in Sook that has always been allotted to the tiny PBRS, which has been helmed by another long-serving leader Joseph Kurup.

In other areas too, especially where the incumbent assemblymen are long-serving and unpopular, some PBS divisional leaders are working to propel themselves as possible candidates within or without BN.

Some of these potential candidates think that with the votes being split among BN, SAPP and Pakatan Rakyat, they stand a chance while others claim they would just go for it to prove a point or two.

“Many PBS assemblymen are old-timers; some of them have been there for far too long and many good leaders in PBS believe they would never have the chance no matter how popular and capable they are,” said a party insider.

PBS is helmed by 72-year-old Joseph Pairin Kitingan, a former chief minister who has been Tambunan assemblyman for more than three decades.

A few days ago, he announced that he will defend both his current seats in Tambunan and Keningau where he is its long-serving MP in the coming general election.

“Pairin might be making a statement to cool down the silent pushing and shoving to replace him in either of the two seats.

“There is already a movement in these areas to promote certain leaders if an opportunity arises,” said the party insider.

Squabbling Upko

PBS deputy president, Maximus Ongkili, is said to be likely to move from Kota Marudu to either Tambunan or Keningau in the next election.

Ongkili has been building a big house, just a stone’s throw from Pairin’s in Tambunan, further fuelling this speculation.

However, insiders said if this happened it might not be smooth sailing for PBS and Ongkili as “local Tambunan PBS boys” who have been serving the constituents for years might not be willing to just fade away with Pairin, if the veteran chooses to decline re-election.

Upko too will not be spared possible revolts.

Though it has generally young leaders as assemblymen, it also has very active and outspoken leaders on state rights and autonomy.

A senior Upko leader, Kalakau Untol, left the party months ago to join PKR.

And he took with him a few young leaders.


The young leaders still maintain ties with their former Upko colleagues fuelling speculation that they could get help, especially in areas where Upko would not be contesting.

But all this is nothing new in Sabah politics. Last-minute revolts and back-stabbings happen all the time.

Many believe the coming 13th general election will be fertile ground for more of the same.

However, this time the ruling coalition may have taken things too much for granted in the
“fixed-deposit” state.

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