Suspension will weaken Sabah Umno, say analysts

KOTA KINABALU: The move to suspend Putatan MP Datuk Shahelmey Yahya is Umno’s way to eliminate him but the party itself also could not afford to lose an MP by sacking him, according to an analyst.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah senior lecturer Dr Lee Kuok Tiung said “the only way then is to suspend him”.

He noted that there are loopholes in the anti-hopping law because there is no clause to stop people from leaving a party en bloc.

This loophole itself, he said, could either make a government stronger or bring down a whole party.

He said Shahelmey’s suspension from Umno will weaken the party, especially in Sabah.

Lee said the purpose of a political party is to be in power, noting that Shahelmey has that by virtue of being in the state Cabinet as the Deputy Chief Minister III and Works Minister.

He said, in fact, Shahelmey might not have any problem leaving the party if not for the anti-hopping law.

“For him, I think he knows his strengths and he is willing to leave the party if it means a better political career for him, but he can’t do that because as an MP, he is bound by the federal anti-hopping law,” he added.

He was commenting on the six-month suspension of Shahelmey announced by Sabah Umno chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin in Sandakan yesterday.

Bung Moktar said Shahelmey was suspended from Umno as a result of his refusal to support the state Umno’s decision to withdraw support for Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor during the political crisis in January.

Shahelmey is the second Umno MP to be slapped with a six-month suspension. In January, Sembrong MP Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein also received the same penalty.

Sabah Universiti Teknologi Mara senior lecturer Tony Paridi Bagang said Shahelmey’s suspension did not come as a surprise since the latter did not back Bung Moktar, which led to the failure of the move to topple the state government.

“But the suspension might disappoint his supporters and this could reduce or perhaps even change their support for Umno at the grassroots level,” he said.

Bagang said the ball is now in the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah government’s court on how soon it wants to adopt the anti-hopping law at the state level.

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