KOTA KINABALU: A complex political alignment has emerged in Sabah following the official launch of the five-party Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS).
Three of these parties – the Sabah chapter of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Sabah Bersatu), Sabah STAR and Sabah Progressive Party – are also aligned to the Perikatan Nasional coalition at the federal level (along with Gerakan and PAS) while Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) are not.
Meanwhile, both PAS with one nominated assemblyman and Gerakan are not included in GRS.
This has raised questions on the position of Perikatan itself at the state level.
However, Sabah STAR president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said there should be no confusion as GRS was focused on political issues at the state level while Perikatan was a national coalition.
“As far as we are concerned, there is no change to our involvement with Perikatan,” said Kitingan, who is both GRS and Perikatan deputy chairman.
Kitingan said Perikatan emerged in Sabah prior to the snap state election in 2020 while GRS came into play after that.
He believes Sabah will be more stable under GRS, especially if the political situation becomes unstable at the federal level.
“If GRS has roots of stability in the state, whatever happens at the federal level, we are still stable here,” he said yesterday during the GRS launch.
Prior to the snap state election, GRS was a loose coalition of 10 parties from Barisan Nasional, Perikatan and PBS which had toppled the Parti Warisan-led state government of Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.
Following GRS’ registration in March this year, Sabah Barisan led by Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin said Barisan parties would not join as they were themselves a coalition.
The current state government is now known as the GRS-Barisan coalition government led by GRS chairman Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.
Sabah Bersatu deputy chairman Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said Sabah Bersatu was working on its own autonomy and had been allowed discretion to decide on its political direction.
“It is not a problem,” he said when asked about public confusion over the position of GRS and Perikatan in Sabah.
With Bersatu-Perikatan and Barisan going separate ways at the federal level, observers expect the power play between GRS led by Sabah Bersatu chairman Hajiji and Sabah Barisan to increase in the months ahead.
Bung Moktar skipped the GRS launch to fly to Tongod for a groundbreaking ceremony for a road project in his Kinabatangan district.
Sabah Umno deputy chairman Datuk Yakubah Khan was present at the launch of GRS.
Among others attending the launch were “GRS friendlies” – Parti Cinta Sabah led by Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, Liberal Democratic Party led by Datuk Chin Su Phin, Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat led by Datuk Peter Anthony as well as Sabah PAS leaders.