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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Pakatan should consider quitting Sabah

PETALING JAYA - A political analyst has urged Pakatan Harapan to consider pulling out of Sabah to pave the way for a one-on-one fight between Barisan Nasional and what may turn out to be a multiracial state-based coalition led by Shafie Apdal.

Speaking to FMT, Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya said the rising ethno-nationalism sentiments in Sabah and Sarawak meant that state issues were gaining traction with voters there. As a result, the parties in Pakatan would be viewed as outsiders, he added.

He was commenting on the flurry of resignations from Sabah PKR and Sabah DAP in favour of local-based opposition parties.

“Sabah BN does not talk much about autonomy for Sabah,” he said. “So this is something Shafie will be using as his weapon.”

He said the effectiveness of playing to local sentiments was proven by BN’s victory in the Sarawak state election last May.

Awang Azman said he believed Shafie was seeking to unite all Sabah opposition parties under one umbrella.

He added that Pakatan would not benefit from multi-corner fights. He suggested that the coalition enter into discussions with Shafie.

“In Sabah, Pakatan can consider pulling out and leave it to Shafie to take on BN,” he said. “In Sarawak, it doesn’t have to pull out as there is no leader there who can unite the opposition like Shafie can in Sabah.”

Another analyst, Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, agreed, saying Sabah opposition leaders had shown that they recognised a state-based platform to be their best option because of current local sentiments.

He criticised PKR and DAP for not committing enough resources for their fight in Sabah. He said this was why their machinery in the state was weak.

“The leadership of the two parties did not leverage on the financial resources available to them, especially in Penang and Selangor.”

He said more funds should have been focused on building up the election machinery in Sabah.

He credited PKR with having given sufficient autonomy to its leaders in Sabah, but said it made a mistake in choosing Klias Assemblyman Lajim Ukim as its state chief.

However, he said Pakatan should forge on, improve on weaknesses and do better to cater to local sentiments.
Over the weekend, Moyog Assemblyman Terrence Siambun, Likas Assemblyman Junz Wong, Sabah PKR Secretary-General Maijol Mahap and Sabah PKR Wanita chief Johair Matlan joined Lajim in quitting PKR.

Sabah DAP Treasurer David Williams and Sabah DAP Vice-Chairman George Hiew also quit their party.

This followed the decision by PKR Vice-President and Penampang MP Darell Leiking to quit PKR and join Shafie’s party.

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