Fate of defectors stays vague

KOTA KINABALU: The fate of the 16 assemblymen whose defection triggered the dissolution of the Sabah state legislative assembly remains unclear, even though nomination for the state election is only 10 days away.

The question in the minds of many is whether these assemblymen will be admitted by existing parties to contest in the Sept 26 election after their controversial move triggered the polls and caused anger among some members of the public.

Political parties have remained mum about accepting them, although it is no secret that these assemblymen have been holding discussions with various party leaders.

One of the assemblyman, Datuk James Ratib (Sugut), held a massive show of support at his home base of Beluran to announce his intention to return to Umno.

However, Sabah Umno has remained quiet so far on whether it will take him back.

Two other assemblymen – Datuk Limus Jury (Kuala Penyu) and Datuk Musbah Jamli (Tempasuk) – had applied to join Sabah Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia when they submitted application forms to Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin during his weekend visit.

Sources say they are waiting for the Sept 7 Court of Appeal decision on their appeal against the Kota Kinabalu High Court’s ruling to dismiss their bid to declare the Yang di-Pertua Negeri’s decision to dissolve the state assembly on July 30 as null and void.

The assemblymen are part of 33 state representatives led by former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman who were making a legal bid to stop the election.

Barring any specific objection, the 33 assemblymen may join existing parties aligned to the opposition Perikatan Nasional front in Sabah.

The parties include Sabah Umno, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) and Sabah MCA, while those under Perikatan are Sabah Bersatu, Sabah STAR, Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and PAS.

Another option is to join Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), which is aligned to the Perikatan opposition front.

It is understood that some of these assemblymen have been approached by the various parties.

However, party sources explained that some assemblymen who defected could be a liability if taken in and fielded again, while some of them, like Limus, would be able to hold his ground in Kuala Penyu without such an issue haunting him.

They said certain parties were reluctant to field defectors in urban seats, as internal surveys had indicated possible voter backlash.

When contacted, incumbent Inanam assemblymen Kenny Chua merely indicated that he would only make an announcement after the Sept 7 court ruling.

“No comment for now. Wait until after the 7th. Thank you, ” he said.

Other assemblymen could not be reached and have kept a low profile since leaving their respective parties in Warisan PLUS on July 28 to join Musa.

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