KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal was absent from the launch of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia here on Saturday (April 6).
The Parti Warisan Sabah president did not show up, together with key leaders from coalition partners such as Sabah DAP deputy chairman Datuk Frankie Poon and Upko president Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau.
However, Prime Minister and Bersatu chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said there were some Warisan leaders who were present at the launch in the International Technology and Commercial Centre (ITCC) here on Saturday (April 6).
He added that he met Mohd Shafie upon arrival at Kota Kinabalu and had a chat with him over certain issues before the Warisan chief went to Semporna to attend a division meeting there.
Among those present at the launch were Sabah opposition leaders Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan from Sabah Star, Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, representatives from Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS).
Sabah Pakatan Harapan chairman Christina Liew also showed up with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail a bit later.
Former Sabah chief ministers Tan Sri Harris Salleh and Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat were also present.
In his speech, Dr Mahathir said Bersatu's entry into the state was spurred by the many requests from Sabahans who wanted an alternative to the parties available.
"It was clear that many wanted out of Umno and Barisan Nasional. They want to join other parties to continue their service to the people and many of them specifically wanted to be a part of Bersatu.
"So we opened our doors to them after waiting to enter Sabah for a long time. We waited for a year and now is the right time to set up our party here. It is indisputable that many Sabahans want to join Bersatu," he added.
Dr Mahathir reiterated that Bersatu was not a threat to the current Warisan-led state government, and will instead help strengthen Mohd Shafie's administration.
He also expressed confidence that Malaysia will have a prime minister from Sabah in the future.
He said the turnout in Sabah was the biggest he had seen so far, with an estimated 30,000 supporters attending the launch and 120,076 membership applications received.
Sulaman assemblyman and ex-Sabah Umno leader Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor was appointed as the state's Bersatu coordinator.
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