KOTA KINABALU: The two Upko assemblymen who signed the declaration of support for Tan Sri Musa Aman to be chief minister said they had done so without knowing their party’s decision to break away from Barisan Nasional.
Kadamaian assemblyman Ewon Benedict said he was in Seri Gaya with the other assemblymen on Thursday and had not contacted Upko acting president Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau, so he did not know about the party’s decision.
It was only later in the evening that he got a message from Upko supreme council on the decision.
Benedict and Paginatan assemblyman Datuk Abidin Madingkir then told the Yang di-Pertua Negri their stance to abide by the party’s decision and this resulted in the delay of Musa’s (the Barisan chairman) swearing-in ceremony.
“I told the Yang di-Pertua Negri at the Istana Negeri that my stance is with Upko and so did Abidin, with the governor taking this into consideration.
“This is why Musa’s swearing in was postponed,” said Benedict during a press conference at Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal’s home yesterday.
Benedict and Abidin are among the six Barisan assemblymen who left the coalition to align with Warisan and its partners Sabah DAP and PKR, a day after Barisan formed the Sabah state government with Musa as chief minister.
The other four are Datuk Abdul Muis Picho (Sebatik), Datuk Hamisa Samat (Tanjong Batu), Jamawi Jaafar (Kemabong) and Datuk Osman Jamal (Balung).
Their crossover raised Warisan’s tally to 35 seats from 29. This is enough for Warisan to command the majority in the 60-member state assembly.
Tangau claimed that the five assemblymen including Benedict and Abidin were being “held against their will” as all had agreed to abide by the special supreme council meeting decision to endorse the move to work with Warisan.
Shafie said the six decided to work with Warisan of their own accord and not due to any inducements or coercion.
Last night, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah became the third Sabah Barisan component party to leave the coalition to become a part of Pakatan Harapan.
“We are leaving Barisan because if we stayed, we will not be able to serve our people in the best way possible,” party president Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said.
“I have spoken to the top leadership of Pakatan and they have said ‘you are most welcome’,” he added.
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