KOTA KINABALU: A plan for former foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman to lead a single local Sabah-based opposition front has fizzled out.
With Anifah taking over Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) as president on Sunday (July 26), two other local parties – Anak Negeri and Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah (PGRS) – have pulled out on a planned merger that would have seen the three parties merge into a single one.
Anak Negeri president Datuk Henrynus Amin said his party decided not to pursue the merger plan the party signed with PCS and PGRS on March 16.
He said Anak Negeri has opted out of the merger plan, after PGRS pulled out earlier to pursue its own political agenda.
Henrynus did not give specific reasons why Anak Negeri opted out of Anifah's group to take over and rebrand PCS, but simply said Anak Negeri has a different political agenda.
Anifah, who took over PCS from founding president Datuk Wilfred Bumburing, is expected to re-brand the party as Parti Kesedaran Rakyat Sabah (Sedar) to pursue state rights as its platform in the next election.
Henrynus said that his party would continue to work with PGRS under the Gagasan Sabah banner while not ruling out the merger of Anak Negeri and PGRS led by Dr Ationg Tituh, as they both shared similar aims and objectives.
When contacted, PGRS deputy president Datuk Hiew King Chew said that his party had ended any talks for a merger and was now looking towards working on its own.
“We have decided to go ahead on our own and push the Sabah agenda without any links to other parties, ” he said, but declined to reveal reasons for the breakdown on the merger plans between the three parties.
Anifah, who was elected unopposed as PCS president with Bumburing as deputy, has yet to make any official comments on his new role which is widely seen as a political force from the splintered state opposition.
Talk on mergers among the many Sabah based parties has been on since last year and include political heavyweights Parti Bersatu Sabah led by Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili, Sabah STAR headed by Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, and the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) led by former chief minister Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee.
However, Sabah STAR, PBS and SAPP dropped out of merger talks, preferring cooperation between opposition parties.
This saw PCS and Anak Negeri agreeing to dissolve and merge with a re-branded PGRS with Anifah leading the new entity in March. The agreement collapsed subsequently.