Zahid: It was four Sabah Umno dissident reps, not five

Photo: Bernama

KOTA KINABALU: It was four dissidents from Sabah Umno that did not follow the party's move to withdraw the state Barisan Nasional's support for the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition government on Jan 6.

Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters it was four Umno assemblymen and not five when reporters asked him about what action the party would take of the assemblymen who supported GRS chairman Datuk Hajiji Noor to remain as Chief Minister.

"Kenapa lima, kenapa tidak empat (why five and not four)," was Zahid's answer to reporters without elaborating.

When contacted later, Sabah Umno secretary Datuk Jafry Ariffin explained that Sindumin assemblyman Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob had applied to join Umno but had yet to be accepted.

Dr Yusof, who won the seat on opposition Parti Warisan's ticket in the 2020 state election, had quit the party to become government-friendly in Oct 2021. In May last year, he confirmed that he was joining Umno.

The Barisan-Umno assemblymen who threw their support behind Hajiji were Datuk Shahelmey Yahya (Tanjung Keramat), Datuk Jasnih Daya (Pantai Dalit), Datuk Arsad Bistari (Tempasuk) and Datuk James Ratib (Sugut). Shahelmey is also Putatan MP, a seat he won in the 15th General Election.

Their move together with Dr Yusof enabled GRS led by Hajiji to secure a 44-seat majority in the 79-member state assembly.

Shahelmey and Ratib had since been promoted in the state Cabinet, with the former named Deputy Chief Minister III and Works Minister, taking over from Bung while the latter was appointed the State Community Development and People's Well-being Minister.

On whether the party would take action on the four Umno assemblymen, Ahmad Zahid said that he would iron it out with them separately.

"We discussed this issue in the meeting and we have to find the best and amicable solutions which we will announce later," he told reporters after chairing a special meeting with Sabah Umno leaders.

He said the party had processes to follow when they took action and these include going through the disciplinary board with final decision by the supreme council.

"We are not in a dilemma. We and the party must be seen to be fair to all our members," he said when asked if the party was caught in a dilemma in acting against the four.

Hajiji in his reshuffled Cabinet had also retained two Barisan-Umno assistant ministers - Datuk Harun Durabi (Bengkoka) and Andi Muhammad Suryady Bandy (Tanjung Batu). Andi is also a Kalabakan MP.

Both had stood with the Sabah Umno’s stand to withdraw support for the GRS government. The duo have yet to publicly say if they were remaining as assistant ministers.

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