Bets are on in Sabah as to how many of Umno's current and former representatives will be quitting the party to join the opposition.
KOTA KINABALU: Rumours of Umno strongman Lajim Ukin quitting Umno has gained momentum with more politicians touted to leave with him.
Speculations are rife that aside from Umno’s Bongawan assemblyman, Karim Bujang and former chief minister Osu Sukam, others likely to follow Lajim are Pantai Manis representative Abdul Rahim Ismail, ex-Banggi rep Amir Kahar Mustapha, former Land and Co-operative Development Minister Kasitah Gadam and Upko’s deputy president Wilfred Bumburing
All are rumoured to be joining Lajim in Sabah People’s Front (SPF), currently an opposition party supportive of Jeffrey Kitingan’s Borneo Agenda.
SPF, which has been linked to Lajim, has already said that Jan 31 is an auspicious date to make an “important announcement”.
Lajim, who is also federal deputy minister of local government and housing, was conspicuously left out from recent Umno and government functions in Beaufort, lending credence to rising rumours.
Word has it that Lajim, who is Beaufort MP, was denied the opportunity of handing out the RM500 government cash vouchers to aid families in his constituency.
“He was not even invited,” alleged one aide who refused to be named.
According to party insiders, Lajim was not amused, and his boys are already drumming up a fight against “those” who would want to see the end of their popular boss.
“Not enough with not inviting, they cancelled (or postponed) a ground-breaking of a mosque in Beaufort planned for this Saturday (Jan 28) where Lajim is scheduled to officiate,” alleged another furious supporter.
Meanwhile one of Bumburing’s men, when approached by FMT yesterday, SMSed that ‘something’ was brewing.
His text reads: “Wait for Upko’s pull-out (from BN)… otherwise SPF with Lajim,”.
SPF readying itself
Lajim caught the attention of many a few weeks ago when rumours of him quitting Umno surfaced. And this culminated with his absence during the recent visit by deputy prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin.
An explanation by one of his aides that he was in China for medical check-up failed to quash the rumours. In fact, coffee shops and local newspapers have since carried speculative news on it.
Meanwhile roads plying Lajim’s hometown in Klias, Beaufort were littered with flags of SPF, further fueling speculations on the subject.
“Certain Umno politicians are trying to get the district councils to order the taking down of those SPF flags, as they claimed it is not yet election time,” claimed a supporter of the party in Kota Kinabalu.
However, he said, they would not bring down their flags as Umno is also doing the same every time it has functions anywhere.
“Wait for our function lah, we also have rights to display our flags. Wait lah for Jan 31,” said another.
Although Lajim has consciously avoided the press, a small news report carried by a local newspaper yesterday has caused a buzz.
Lajim had reportedly said that Barisan Nasional was not biased or power crazy as alleged by the opposition.
“We are not a government that is greedy and unfair. We share the power fairly and all races have their representatives in the government,” he had reportedly said.
The same report also quoted Lajim as saying that he “hoped the people could properly assess who carries the responsibility honestly without prejudice and who is good at making promises and throwing allegations”.
The report said that Lajim had uttered these words during a walkabout to distribute Chinese New Year greeting cards in Kuala Penyu which meant it was most probably held last week.
Nonetheless, his ‘alleged’ statements has only raised more questions.