Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim is unperturbed by the aborted plans of two BN MPs who were supposed to announce their defection yesterday.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah politics is all about hanging on to power and the latest postponement of the over-hyped “pullout” from the Barisan Nasional by two government MPs facing the axe in the coming general election stressed this.
United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) deputy president and Tuaran MP Wilfred Bumburing and Umno supreme council member Lajim Ukin, who is MP for Beaufort, are looking at ways to defend their seats in a desperate political gamble.
They were scheduled to declare their resignation at functions in Tuaran and Beaufort yesterday in the presence of PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.
But this has now been “re-scheduled” to next month, according to sources. Sources noted that the “new” date for the “jump” is Aug 26.
Both leaders were to quit the ruling national coalition but stay on as independent MPs until the dissolution of Parliament.
Earlier rumours were that both former Deputy Chief Minister Bumburing and Federal Housing and Local Government Deputy Minister Lajim would join PKR. However, they both have since denied this.
But an opposition leader here said it is an open secret that both leaders are in discussion with Anwar to defend their respective parliamentary seats under the PKR symbol.
“This has not gone down well with loyal Sabah PKR leaders. Should Tuaran be contested by Bumburing on a PKR ticket, there will be no place for local PKR leader Ansari Abdullah and Kalakau Untol,” the politician said.
Ansari is a senior lawyer and was among the pioneer leaders in bringing PKR into Sabah while Untol, a Tuaran-born leader, was a former federal deputy minister and one-time MP for Tuaran.
Anwar still open to Mps
In KUCHING, meanwhile, Anwar said Pakatan’s doors were still open to Bumburing and Lajim and “everyone” who is “clamouring for change”.
Responding to questions about the duo, Anwar said: “What is important is not just the positions of Wilfred Bumburing and Lajim Ukim.
“What is important is what the Sabahans want. Leaders must respect and respond accordingly.
“I certainly welcome them if they dare to respect the wishes and the sentiments of the Sabahans.”
Anwar was supposed to be in Sabah yesterday to personally welcome Bumburing and Lajim into the opposition fold. But instead he was in Kuching.
Many are of the view that Bumburing and Lajim are playing “tarik tali” with the BN leadership and that their much touted defection was merely a “wayang kulit” (shadow play).
But Anwar dismissives this view.
“The point the people in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak miss is that they must join force and demand for change in this country.
“It’s not just MPs and individuals, but everyone must clamour for total change.
“We certainly welcome people committed to reform, people who understand ‘Buku Jingga’ and the struggles and principles of Pakatan Rakyat.”
Another new organisation
Back in Kota Kinabalu, a political activist said that it was not unusual for politicians to have “a foot” each on both sides.
Said former PKR Sabah liaison secretary Kanul Gindol: “In politics everything and anything is possible.
“This whole issue [standing as 'independents' or under PKR banner] is about alternatives.
“If it is true, it is another possible arrangement for the benefit of those parties involved.
“While such arrangements have been done before in the Peninsula and Sarawak, it is not yet popular in Sabah,” said Gindol, who now heads his own NGO called Kanul Initiatives.
Gindol said that while Sabah has local opposition parties like the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and Jeffrey Kitingan’s State Reform Party (STAR), the two BN leaders’ potential hop to PKR could shake up the opposition political scenario in Sabah.
He, however, said that it was too early to talk about the impact the MPs would make on state politics should they go ahead with their plans.
Apart from the Tuaran and Beaufort gathering, Anwar was also scheduled to officially launch the state’s latest organisation, Perikatan Perubahan Sabah (PPS), which is jointly headed by Bumburing and Lajim.
Not much is known about PPS but it is learnt that this will be a body where state leaders such as former MPs, former assembly members and incumbent lawmakers not in the list of their parties’ candidates for the general election will group together to contest in the election.