POLITICS: Is it about to rain political frogs in Sabah again?


YESTERDAY, it didn’t rain in the east coast town of Tawau in Sabah when Sebatik assemblyman Hassan Gani Pg Amir of Parti Warisan Sabah announced that he had jumped to be an independent.

Part of the Sebatik state constituency is on the island of Sebatik, which is visible from Tawau town and is shared by Malaysia and Indonesia.

Hassan, a first-term assemblyman who won his seat by a 522-majority, gave the standard operating procedure (SOP) reason for jumping. He said he quit Warisan because the party prioritised politics over the well-being of the rakyat.

There was not much protest by Warisan over the jump. When it was in power, the party encouraged and allowed ten political frogs to join it.

Warisan grabbed power from the two-day-old Barisan Nasional Sabah government in May 2018 when six assemblymen from Umno and Upko leapt to support the Warisan Plus alliance.

But it is a moral blow for Warisan as usually in Sabah, when it rains political frogs, it pours. For example, after Sabah Umno lost power in 2018, 16 out of its 17 assemblymen ditched the party.

“Do you think there will be more jumps after Sebatik?” I asked a Perikatan Nasional politician based in Sabah.

“Yes, there will be. Watch out for DAP representatives, ” said the politician who did not want to be identified.

Sources with the GRS (Gabungan Rakyat Sabah) government and Warisan Plus, the opposition alliance, expect more “berjiwa rakyat” (people-orientated) Opposition assemblymen to jump.

“X, Y and Z had been approached last week, ” a Warisan Plus source told me.

One of the whys these assemblymen were approached is the GRS Sabah government wants a two-third majority in the 79-seat state assembly.

After Sebatik’s jump, GRS has 48 assemblymen and nominated assemblymen while Warisan Plus has 30.

(Warisan’s Bugaya assemblyman passed away and there was no by-election yet because of the emergency rule.)

GRS needs 53 assemblymen to get a two-third majority. The Sabah government is short of five YBs if it wanted to remove a sitting Sabah Yang di-Pertua Negeri (TYT).

The Sabah constitution states: “.... the Yang di-Pertua Negeri may be removed from office by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in pursuant of an address by the Legislative Assembly supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total number of the members thereof.”

GRS government is suspicious of Tun Juhar Mahiruddin, the Yang di-Pertua Negeri.

Juhar removed Tan Sri Musa Aman as the Sabah chief minister and installed Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal. The “rightful chief minister of Sabah” case - which Musa is questioning whether his removal as CM was done in accordance with the state constitution - is ongoing.

The TYT also refused to meet 33 assemblymen - half of the then 65-seat assembly - who signed statutory declarations (SDs) backing Musa. Instead, Juhar consented to Shafie’s request to dissolve the assembly, paving the way for a snap state poll.

What we’re seeing is round three of the Musa vs Shafie bitter rivalry.

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