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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

GE13: Mutiny in Umno Sepanggar

Umno Sepanggar will not support any 'new' candidate for the Sepanggar parliamentary seats which the Sabah Umno leaderships believes to be 'winnable'.

KOTA KINABALU: Umno Sepanggar is in crisis and its grassroots leaders are no longer pussy-footing around state party chief Musa Aman.

Feeling betrayed, seven grassroots leaders have threatened to quit if Musa goes ahead with plans to parachute a candidate into Sepanggar parliamentary constituency in the 13th general election.

In a joint statement, the leaders said the constituency will also not support any new faces which Sabah Umno fields in Sepanggar in its bid to wrest the seat from Sabah Progressive People’s Party incumbent Eric Maimbun.

They said the only candidate “qualified” to stand and is “winnable” is Umno Sepanggar division chief Jumat Idris.

“Umno Sepanggar has worked very hard to win back voter confidence after SAPP and its MP, Eric Majimbum, quit BN two years ago.

“We are the ones who have slogged without thinking of returns from anyone.

“We at the grassroots worked day and night to prepare the Juara Rakyat programme and went down to the ground house to house to ensure that Sepanggar parliamentary seat is ours.

“Now suddenly there’s a parachute candidate for Sepanggar. This is wrong,” said Umno Kampung Mambong Sepanggar, Basri Awang Besar.

Basri said Musa must remember that the power to vote is in the hands of the grassroots.

“And if they don’t recognise the candidate, there’s a high possibility that the Sepanggar seat will remain with the opposition, ” he added.

Basri said the Umno branch chiefs in Sepanggar were united in their demand that Jumat be fielded as candidate in Sepanggar.

Kampung Likas branch chief Edin Pelai said Jumat was the ideal candidate and fielding him would guarantee the Sepanggar parliamentary seat is Umno’s.

“We have unanimously rejected [the top leaderships'] move to parachute a candidate into Sepanggar.

“We want only the chairman of the Barisan Nasional coordinating committee. He is Jumaat Idris. He is a local boy from Sepanga Likas.

“If the [state Umno] leadership refused to nominate Jumaat in the GE13 for the Sepanggar seat, then we the branch chiefs are ready to resign.

“We will not help or support a parachute candidate,” said Erin.

He said the Sabah Umno leadership should know that the division had a proven record of solving many of the problems of the people in the Inanam and Karambunai state seats.

Both seats come under the Sepanggar parliamentary constituency. Inanam and Karambunai are held by PBS’ Johnny Goh and Umno’s Jainab Ahmad respectively. Majimbun, who is incumbent MP, is likely to defend his seat.

Mounting anger

Meanwhile, another branch chief Haji Masri Mansor, from Kampung Rampayan Menggatal, warned Musa not to underestimate the suburban voters.

He said the trend now was not towards parties but candidates and it was highly possible that voters would reject faces they did not know no matter the symbol.

“Young voters prefer a younger candidate and someone they can relate to. It is also important that he is a local.
‘This is a clear indication that we should put up a candidate who can win their [young voters'] support, ” he said.

Masri said that mounting anger from the grasroots was already visible as some polling district chiefs were already threatening to shut down their centres.

“People are upset here. At this point, there are already polling district chiefs who are angry and threatening to close their centres if the top leaders insist on dropping parachute candidates in Sepanggar, ” said Masri..

Even without the raging discontent within Umno Sepanggar, the parliamentary seat is already a contentious one.

Since SAPP pulled out of the BN coalition in 2008, the seat has been eyed by all the Sabah Barisan Nasional coalition members – Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko), Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Even Gerakan has voiced its interest in the seat.

The KDM parties have perhaps been the most pushy and ties have been strained between Umno Sepanggar and its ‘rival’ PBS. PBS has 100 branches in Inanam and Karambunai with more that 9,000 members who are natives of Sepanggar.

Voter-wise Sepanggar has 53,226 registered voters. They comprise 35% non-Muslim Bumiputera (KDM or Kadazan Dusun Murut), 45% Muslim Bumiputera (Bajau Sama) and 20 per cent Sino-Native and Chinese.

Another attractive pull is the fact that the constituency has 3,000 postal voters, comprising mostly of Royal Malaysian Navy staff and their families.


-------------------------------------------------related news

PBS wants Umno to hand over Sepanggar

Joseph Bingkasan

Sabah Barisan Nasional coalition leaders are lobbying hard to take Sepanggar parliamentary seat from Umno's grasp and be given the opportunity to contest.

KOTA KINABALU: Barisan Nasional coalition member Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) wants the Sepanggar parliamentary constituency and is hoping for a last minute change of heart by the top BN leadership.

As it stands now Umno, the senior partner in the ruling coalition, looks set to bag the seat that was won by former BN member, the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP).

SAPP quit the coalition a few months after the 2008 election.

According to sources the finalised list of Sabah BN candidates submitted to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for approval hands the seat eyed by several other BN parties to Sabah Umno to contest for the coalition.

SAPP deputy president Eric Majimbun won the seat on a BN ticket in the 2008 general election.

Sepanggar Umno chief Jumat Idris is likely to be the candidate but should he be fielded in the state seat of Karambunai, then incumbent Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan could be the stand-in candidate for the MP seat.

Beside PBS, the United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko), Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)and Parti Gerakan have all voiced interest in the seat.

The Sepanggar constituency comprises the state seats of Inanam and Karambunai won by PBS’ Johnny Goh and and Jainab Ahmad of Umno respectively in the last election.

There are 53,226 registered voters in this constituency comprising 35% non-Muslim Bumiputera (KDM or Kadazan Dusun Murut), 45% Muslim Bumiputera (Bajau Sama) and 20 per cent Sino-Native and Chinese.

PBS has 100 branches in Inanam and Karambunai with more that 9,000 members who are natives of Sepanggar, who have cast their votes for the BN in every elections.

There are also about 3,000 postal voters in Sepanggar, mostly made up of members of the Royal Malaysian Navy and their families, who have traditionally been counted as government supporters.

Combined with the large number of Muslim Bumiputeras, Sino-natives and KDM, the seat is considered BN’s for the taking.

Line-up for Sepanggar

But other BN coalition leaders are hoping to take the plum seat from Umno’s grasp and be given the opportunity to contest the seat.

PBS has lined up Kota Kinabalu native district chief William Majimbun as their candidate.

A source in PBS pointed out that even though the list of candidates had been finalised, there had always been changes at the 11th hour in past elections and this is what the party was hoping would happen.

In the 2008 election, PBS was given four MP seats to contest – Kota Kinabalu, Keningau, Kota Marudu and Batu Sapi in Sandakan. They lost Kota Kinabalu to DAP.

Sabah has 25 parliamentary constituencies with Umno taking the lions share of 13 followed by PBS and Upko having four each and LDP and PBRS one each.

SAPP, which left BN after the last general election, had two seats – Sepanggar and Tawau.

Whichever BN component party is selected to field its candidate in Sepanggar, the contest will be a crowded one as SAPP, the State Reform Party (STAR) and PKR as well as the lesser known Malaysia People’s United Party (MPUP) are all expected to contest.

SAPP is likely to field incumbent MP Eric Majimbun to defend the seat as well as to contest the Inanam state seat in the coming general election.

Majimbun won the seat in 2008 when he polled 16,884 votes, PKR’s Yembun Kuleling (5,423) and Edward Muji of DAP 3,709 votes.

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