KOTA KINABALU: The move by Parti Warisan Sabah MPs to be absent from Parliament during Pakatan Harapan's attempts to knock down Budget allocations for the Prime Minister's Department in Parliament on Monday (Nov 30) has raised questions about the party's motives.
The move from the party led by Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal came as a shock and analysts are still trying to figure out the real motive, which has seen further fragmentation of the Opposition.
Warisan's official stand over boycott of Monday's bloc voting in Parliament was that the Opposition needed a new leader to replace PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Warisan's Labuan MP Rozman Isli said they were tired of what was going on, especially after Anwar told Opposition MPs not to support bloc voting on Budget 2021 at the policy stage last week.
Party insiders said the move for a new leader was necessary as recent events had left the Opposition in an embarrassing political position.
"Why didn't Anwar want to stand up to support the call for bloc voting for the policy approval of Budget 2021?
"As Opposition Leader, he should have gone for it. He pulled us all back. We are fed up with the quarrels between Anwar and Dr Mahathir.
"It is best for a new leader to head the Opposition" said a Warisan leader who declined to be named.
The party insider made it clear that Shafie was not eyeing the role as speculated by many, but was only keen to see a cohesive opposition front without infighting or public quarrels.
Warisan remains with the Opposition, the party insider said but it wants firm new leadership and an end to infighting.
Analysts have differing opinions over Warisan's move, with some suspecting speculating that Shafie is hoping to oust Anwar, while others claim he is working with Perikatan Nasional.
Political analyst Dr Oh Ei Sun felt it was unlikely Shafie was eyeing the national opposition leadership post as he did not have the numbers.
"I don't think so, as he (Shafie) still cannot muster the support of the overall Pakatan. But he is positioning himself carefully and distinctively as a plausible replacement prime minister candidate, should Anwar's political position become really untenable," he said.
Oh said that it was no secret that both Anwar and Shafie are in contention for the prime minister post should the current Perikatan government fall.
"It is therefore only natural that they – and, by extension, their parties – distance themselves from each another.
"Of course, by not working with one another, they risk prolonging current political uncertainties, whereby a government with weak or maybe even non-existent majority is propped up precipitously by a similar inability by the Opposition to form a workable majority," said Oh, who is a fellow with the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.
He said there was nobody else in the Opposition that had political stature close to Anwar's or Shafie's.
Oh said that Anwar would not let go without a fight if his position grows untenable among Opposition members.
Oh, however, said that any attempt to oust Anwar was unlikely to succeed as he had an "ironclad" hold on PKR and DAP.
Warisan is not a member of Pakatan but is friendly to the coalition, and at the state level, Warisan works with Pakatan parties together with local-based Upko.
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