Once allies, now political rivals

KOTA KINABALU: The war of words between one-time allies Sabah Umno and Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah has continued to escalate, with both sides accusing each other of being greedy for power.

The fallout centres on the bid by Sabah Umno chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin to topple Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor, who leads the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) state government, in January.

The failed political coup remains in discussion especially after Hajiji described the attempt as a “black mark in Sabah’s political history” when he launched Gagasan Rakyat’s first congress here on Nov 13.

Gagasan Rakyat leaders accused Bung Moktar of being power crazy and said Sabah Umno was still caught in a “big brother” mindset despite eroding political support.

Sabah Umno hit back yesterday, questioning Hajiji and other Gagasan Rakyat leaders for claiming that they had the mandate of the people when the party was full of defectors and had never contested an election.

Kota Kinabalu Umno deputy division chief Mohammad Azmi Ingkat said the current line-up of Gagasan Rakyat assemblymen, including the Chief Minister, had won on the Perikatan Nasional ticket in the snap state election in September 2020.

“They were all members of Bersatu which they left in December last year immediately after Perikatan lost power in the 15th General Election (GE15).

“Gagasan Rakyat has never contested any election because the 11 (representatives) who won in the state election had done so under Bersatu,” he said, adding that Hajiji did the same thing after Umno lost power in 2018.

“And today, their seats in the state assembly have increased, not through elections, but through representatives who jumped; all to strengthen their power.”

Mohammad Azmi alleged that Gagasan Rakyat leaders were the ones who were hungry for power.

This, he said, was also seen when Hajiji abandoned Bersatu immediately after GE15 to seek an alliance with the new Federal Government.

“Sabah Umno has been in the Opposition with principled leaders, unlike Gagasan Rakyat leaders who jumped here and there for fear of being the Opposition,” he said, adding that Bung Moktar had fought on political principles, not for power.

“Immediately after the GE15 results, Hajiji began discussing the formation of government with Perikatan’s Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin without consulting Sabah Umno, which was in an electoral pact with GRS,” said Mohammad Azmi.

“They crossed the line when they initially expressed their support for Muhyiddin as Prime Minister without discussing it with Sabah Umno,” he said, adding that Sabah Umno, using its autonomy, worked with GRS despite the national potical party’s order not to work with Bersatu in Sabah.

Gagasan Rakyat’s Lamag division leader Johainizamshah Johari also accused Sabah Umno of being ungrateful after its leaders were given positions in state-owned companies.

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