Zahid heads to Sabah for talks in view of coming state polls

KUALA LUMPUR: With the warming of ties between Sabah Umno and Parti Warisan but no decision yet on an official tie-up, Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is headed for the state to try to ease the internal party friction.

“I will be flying off to Sabah today (yesterday) immediately after this event.

“I will be issuing a good statement in Kota Kinabalu on Monday,” Ahmad Zahid, who is also Umno president, told reporters after visiting the Back to School MoodaFest 2024 yesterday.

The Deputy Prime Minister was asked to comment on the recent political developments in Sabah following talk of a cooperation between Sabah Umno and Parti Warisan for the coming state polls which are expected to take place later this year.

It is not clear which storm the Umno president was referring to but in recent weeks, an internal conflict is said to have arisen between Sabah Umno chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin and his deputy Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan over the direction of the party partnership in the next election.

Bung is widely seen to be in favour of working with Warisan led by Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, a former chief minister, while Abdul Rahman and his group prefer working with the ruling Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) led by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.

Talk of a tie-up between Sabah Umno and Warisan to take on GRS in the state polls intensified following Bung Moktar’s appearance at Warisan’s annual general meeting on Dec 14.

The parties are said to be looking at ways to work together but so far, there has been no decision on whether Sabah Umno will collaborate with other parties in the polls that must be called by September 2025.

The Barisan-GRS pact unravelled in January last year after Sabah Umno withdrew its support for Hajiji’s state administration. He managed to retain control of the state government with the support of Sabah Pakatan Harapan and several Sabah Umno renegades.

GRS currently comprises seven members, namely Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah (Gagasan Rakyat), Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Sabah STAR, United Sabah National Organisation (Usno), Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Harapan Rakyat.

Last Saturday, Sabah Umno information chief Datuk Suhaimi Nasir said the state chapter was granted autonomy by the national leadership to decide on its partners in the coming state polls.

The Libaran Umno division chief rejected calls from outsiders, specifically Gerakan Kuasa Malaysia (G57) chairman Datuk Zulkarnain Mahdar, for Bung Moktar to resign as Sabah Umno chief if it decides to work with Warisan or any other party.

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