KOTA KINABALU: State Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia has denied news reports that its assemblymen and parliamentarians were returning to Sabah Umno.
Sabah Bersatu information chief Khairul Firdaus Akhbar said it was a baseless claim that was created by some parties who were not happy with Bersatu’s presence in the state.
“They are trying to create rifts between the political partners in Perikatan Nasional, ” he said in a statement Sunday (May 17), denying a news portal report claiming that some of Sabah Bersatu’s nine assemblymen and five MPs were joining Umno.
Firdaus said all MPs and assemblymen were strongly behind the state’s Bersatu leader under Sulaman assemblyman Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor
“All leaders are focused towards working for the interest of the people, ” he said.
He said they were also focused on the development plans outlined under the federal Sabah Development Action Council spearheaded by Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Ronald Kiandee, who is the Sabah Bersatu secretary.
He believed that such political talk was being spread by certain quarters who were unable to shake the government led by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who was doing a good job in handling the Covid-19 crisis.
“Sabah Bersatu leaders are focused on their responsibilities, ” he said, in dismissing the claims.
Bersatu spread its wings to Sabah in April 2019 with Umno’s elected representatives defecting to Bersatu.
Sabah Umno is now left with former Sabah Barisan Nasional chief minister, Sungai Sibuga assemblyman Tan Sri Musa Aman and its head, Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Moktar Radin.
Many of the former Umno leaders who switched to Bersatu were seen as close allies of Musa.
Among those reps with Bersatu were Musa’s son Sipitang MP Hafiz Yamani Musa and his son-in-law Datuk Mohd Arrifin Ariff, the Membakut assemblyman.
Following the recent fall of Pakatan Harapan-led governments in Melaka and Kedah, Sabah political circles have been swirling with rumours and social media claims that former Sabah Umno and Barisan leaders were trying to regroup under Musa to topple the Parti Warisan Sabah-led coalition government of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
Warisan and coalition partners, who have said that they are intact, hold a two-thirds majority or 48 seats in the the 65-member house against the combined opposition of 17 seats (Sabah Bersatu-9, PBS-4, Sabah STAR-3 and Sabah Umno-1).
Observers have noted that any move to topple the Warisan-led state government would need at least 16 or 17 assemblymen to shift their support to the state’s opposition.
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