'Courtesy call' on Anwar by Sabah opposition leaders gets tongues wagging

  • Nation
  • Friday, 19 Oct 2018

Anwar posing with from left Dr Maximus Ongkili, Dr Jeffery Kitingan, Anifah Aman, Arthur Kurup and Zakariah Edris.

KOTA KINABALU: A meeting between PKR president-elect Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and six senior Sabah opposition leaders has tongues wagging with talk of new political alignment and allegiance in the state.

Anwar was seen in a group photo with former foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, Parti Solidariti Tahnah AirKu president Datuk Dr Jeffery Kitingan, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) acting president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) deputy president Arthur Kurup and Sabah Umno leader Datuk Zakariah Edris.

The picture was apparently taken after the now-independent Sabah MPs met Anwar at his office in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, on Thursday (Oct 18).

Details about the meeting are scant, but this has not stopped speculation in Sabah about political alliances being reshaped in the aftermath of the May 9 election.

When asked about the meeting, Dr Jeffrey said on Friday (Oct 19) that it was merely a courtesy call.

"We just paid Anwar a courtesy call and to congratulate him on his Port Dickson by-election victory," said Dr Jeffrey, adding that they represented the independent parliamentarians in the state.

Asked if they spoke to Anwar about the plans to set up Gabungan Bersatu Sabah (GBS), which would include PBS, Sabah STAR and Umno elected representatives, Dr Jeffrey said nothing of that nature was discussed.

"We briefed Anwar on our concerns in Sabah, especially about security and the IMM13 issue (immigration passes given to Filipino refugees who fled to Sabah in the early 1970s)," Dr Jeffrey added.

Dr Jeffrey insisted that mainly state, not political, issues were discussed.

Anifah, who last month left Umno to become an independent MP, has said that he would support the Pakatan Harapan government on state rights and it is believed that he is looking at forming a new party that will work with the proposed Sabah-based GBS coalition.

Sabah Umno elected representatives, who have also declared that Sabah Barisan Nasional remains only on paper, is also working towards the GBS coalition.

If the new state opposition coalition materialises, it will be the main opposition to Parti Warisan Sabah and its coalition partners DAP, PKR and United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko).

Sources say that the situation is still fluid as negotiations are ongoing, with some elected representatives not keen on joining GBS and are looking to throw in their lot with Warisan and PKR.

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