GRS move to join Anwar's government helps stabilise Sabah's state govt, say analysts

KOTA KINABALU: The decision by Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) to join the unity government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will stabilise the political uneasiness at the state level.

Political observers believe that GRS, which was seen to be aligned to Perikatan Nasional led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, would bring about political stability to the GRS-Barisan Nasional coalition government.

Political analyst Dr Romzi Ationg said that there was a general public confusion with GRS as party partners included the Sabah chapter of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) led by Muhyiddin which strongly opposed Anwar in becoming Prime Minister.

"It is our hope that such a move by GRS contributes to the political stability of Sabah," he said, referring to confirmation by Anwar on Friday (Nov 25) that GRS, led by Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor, would give their support for a unity government.

However, Romzi said that it seemed confusing to many people as GRS portrayed themselves as indecisive on its position on who they would support during the critical hours and days ahead of the unity government.

One key problem with GRS was the presence of national-based Bersatu which was part of the Perikatan coalition at the national level, said Romzi, a lecturer with Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).

Many had hoped that state Bersatu led by Hajiji would abandon the national party and move to local based Usno (a GRS component partner) to give GRS a truly Sabah-based coalition similar to Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), Romzi said.

"People have been hoping local Bersatu leaders move to Usno for the sake of consolidating the GRS with local party agendas," he said, adding that Bersatu was the only non-Sabah based component party in GRS which won six Parliament seats.

"I believe that the decision to strengthen as well as focus on the local party while having a good relationship with federal leaders is the best choice for the GRS.

"In fact, GRS portrays itself just like Sarawak's GPS but the presence of Bersatu within GRS confuses Sabahans," he said.

Apart from GRS' Bersatu which won four Parliamentary seats, its other partners Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Sabah STAR secured a seat each in the 15th General Election.

For Sabah UiTM political analyst Tony Paridi Bagang, GRS' move to join the unity government was pragmatic as it would ensure cordial relations between the state and Anwar.

"Political rivalries are part and parcel of politics. Nonetheless, by being part of the unity government. It is time for people and the state affairs to move on," he said.

He said the current political scenario could minimise inter-party rivalry and as such stabilise Sabah politically for the time being.

GRS' initial absence from Anwar's government sparked speculation that Sabah Barisan led by Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin was likely to renegotiate its partnership with GRS in the state government.

Among others, Bung had the option to pull Barisan's support to GRS and form a coalition with Warisan (who were the first to join the unity government) and Sabah Pakatan (DAP, PKR and Upko) to take over the state government.

Alternatively, Bung could strengthen Barisan's position within Hajiji's state Cabinet by renegotiating positions.

Bung had earlier expressed unhappiness with GRS' initial support for Muhyiddin to be prime minister as it was against the pre-election pact where GRS said it would leave it to Barisan to choose the premier.

Hajiji, however, said that GRS did not breach the pact as Barisan did not win the general election.

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