POLITICS: Whispers of change in the wind for Sabah?


Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (left) and Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili (right)

THE angin kencang (strong winds) speculation in the Land Below the Wind has it that the opposition Warisan Plus will form a coalition government with Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).

Can Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal make a comeback to become chief minister again after Warisan Plus lost the snap Sabah Election to Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) in September last year?

The maths for the Warisan Plus/PBS coalition doesn’t add up.

Warisan Plus (Warisan 21, DAP six, PKR two and Upko 1) with 30 seats and PBS with seven cannot form the state government because that only makes 37 out of the 78-seat assembly. It needs other assemblymen to take that “leap of faith”.

Currently, the GRS state government has 48 seats.

On Tuesday (May 11), Shafie sparked the speculation when he said his party would love to work with PBS given the opportunity.

The next day, PBS president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili gave credence to the speculation when he said his party was willing to work with Warisan in the interest of the state and its people.

Ongkili noted that PBS enjoyed a good working relationship with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, both through GRS and Perikatan Nasional.

Fuelled by Ongkili’s comment, the rumour mill went into overdrive.

However, a PBS insider explained that the cooperation which the Sabah and Sarawak Affairs Minister referred to was addressing issues like MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963) and PTI (pendatang tanpa izin, or illegal immigrants).

A party insider pointed out that it would be suicidal for PBS to form a coalition government with Warisan because it would suffer the same fate as Upko.

In the 2018 Sabah election, the Kadazandusun and Murut-based Upko, which attacked Warisan as a pro-PTI party during campaigning, won six seats under the Barisan Nasional banner.

The two-day-old Barisan state government collapsed when Upko supported a Warisan Plus government.

In the 2020 Sabah election, Kadazandusun and Murut (KDM) voters punished Upko for embracing Warisan. Upko won just one seat.

“How will PBS explain to its voters that it was now in government with a party it attacked as PTI? Will the KDM voters leave PBS for Sabah STAR in the next polls?” said the PBS insider.

The pillow fight between the PBS and Sabah STAR also fuelled speculation that the former was ditching the GRS state government. Both parties are vying to be the champion of the KDM.

There is also unhappiness among the GRS parties about sharing the spoils of war from last year's state election.

Last night, PBS secretary-general Datuk Joniston Bangkuai quashed the new government speculation, saying it was idle chatter since the state government was secure.

But several Warisan insiders insist that something is brewing, saying ground support for such a possibility is swelling.

“But leave it at that first. There is a saying in Murut – makatibusu, ” said a Warisan leader.

Makatibusu means it is better not to talk about something because that could jinx it.

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Politics , Sabah , Shafie Apdal , Warisan , PBS , GRS , Maximus Ongkili

   

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