Sabah Umno reps switch sides

KOTA KINABALU: Four Sabah Umno renegade assemblymen are joining Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah led by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.

They broke party ranks when Sabah Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin attempted but failed to topple Hajiji’s state government on Jan 6.

However, these four men – Datuk James Ratib (Sugut), Datuk Jasnih Daya (Pantai Dalit), Datuk Arshad Bistari (Tempasuk) and Datuk Hamid Awang (Balung) – have yet to resign from Umno.

They were present at a joint press conference yesterday to announce their intention to join Gagasan Rakyat.

Ratib, who is state Community Development and People’s Well-being Minister, declined to reply to questions on whether he had quit Umno.

Jasnih was more forthcoming, saying that their announcement was centred on them leaving Umno.

“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 a show-cause letter from Umno, asking them to explain the events that led to them not supporting Sabah Barisan-Umno during the political crisis in January.

“I received the letter on Monday. I may go to answer to the disciplinary board on Friday,” he said.

The fifth assemblyman, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Shahelmey Yahya (Tanjung Keramat), who was among the initial five party renegades, was not present at the joint press conference.

(Shahelmey is also the Putatan MP. He will be subjected to the federal anti-hopping law if he changes party. He remains a Barisan-Umno member but in support of Hajiji.)

Sindumin assemblyman Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob, who quit Warisan in October 2021 and applied to join Umno with his membership still pending, led the press conference yesterday, stating that he is also joining Gagasan Rakyat.

He said three assemblymen –Mohammad Mohamarin (Banggi), Norazlinah Arif (Kunak) and Ben Chong Chen Bin (Tanjung Kapar) –who left Warisan on Feb 6 to become Independents, will also join Gagasan Rakyat.

At the press conference, Yusof said all eight of them believed that a Sabah-based party is best to protect the interest and rights of the people in the state.

He said they felt it was important for Sabah leaders to focus on developing the state and the economy without having to deal with any political crisis.

Gabungan Rakyat Sabah is seen to hold a total of 51 of the 79 seats in the state assembly, including the three representatives from Parti KDM led by Datuk Peter Anthony who announced yesterday that they are backing Hajiji.

Meanwhile, Bung Moktar described the five former Sabah Umno assemblymen as “jumping monkeys”, adding that elected representatives in the state are known for changing their political affiliations over money and positions.

“I’m ashamed because a majority of Sabah assemblymen are like that ... Some even became GLC heads for betraying the party.

“God willing, for those who like to betray, we will eliminate them from Sabah. To those without loyalty and integrity, we will ensure your extinction as a species that likes to ‘jump’,” said Bung Moktar in Parliament yesterday.

Bung urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate defecting assemblymen.

He also questioned the Sabah state government’s delay in tabling anti-party hopping law.

“It’s as though they want to buy more leaders so that the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah can be strengthened,” he added.

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