KOTA KINABALU: Four renegade Sabah Umno assemblymen have announced they will join Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah led by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.
The four, who broke party ranks when Sabah Barisan chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin failed to topple Hajiji's state government on Jan 6, have yet to resign from Umno.
The four – Datuk James Ratib (Sugut), Datuk Jasnih Daya (Pantai Dalit), Datuk Arshad Bistari (Tempasuk) and Datuk Hamid Awang (Balung) – were at a joint press conference on Tuesday (Feb 21) to announce their intention join Gagasan Rakyat.
Ratib, who is state Community Development and People's Well-being Minister, declined to answer reporters' questions if he had quit Umno.
Jasnih, however, said that the announcement was for them to leave Umno but they had not resigned.
"We have not resigned. You must remember that Umno has pre-conditions. If we join another party we will be automatically expelled from the party," he said.
Jasnih said that all five of them had received show-cause letters from Umno asking them to explain the events that led to them not supporting the Sabah Barisan-Umno in the Jan 6 state political crisis.
"I received the letter on Monday (Feb 20), I may go to answer to the disciplinary board on Friday (Feb 24)," he said.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Shahelmey Yahya (Tanjung Keramat), who was among the initial five party renegades, did not join the four to announce their intention to join Gagasan Rakyat.
Shahelmey, who is also Putatan MP and would be subject to the anti-hopping law if he changes parties. He remains a Barisan-Umno member who supports Hajiji.
Sindumin assemblyman Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob, who quit Warisan in October 2021 and applied to join Umno (whose membership is still pending), led the press conference stating that he was joining Gagasan Rakyat.
He said that three assemblymen – Mohammad Mohamarin (Banggi), Norazlinah Arif (Kunak) and Ben Chong Chen Bin (Tanjung Kapar) – who left Warisan on Feb 6 to become independents would also join Gagasan Rakyat.
In the press conference, Dr Yusof said that all eight assemblymen strongly believed that a Sabah-based party was best way to protect the interests of the people.
He said that they felt that it was important for Sabah leaders to focus on developing the state and the economy without further political crisis.
Hajiji's Gabungan Rakyat Sabah is seen to hold a total of 51 of the 79 assemblymen in the state assembly with the three assemblymen from Parti KDM led by Datuk Peter Anthony, who announced they were throwing their support back to Hajiji earlier on Tuesday.