KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 – There is no question of former Sabah Umno leaders and lawmakers joining any Pakatan Harapan component party, especially Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).
This is based on Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) deputy president Datuk Darell Leiking’s comment that Bersatu will not expand to Sabah like it did to Sarawak last month. Warisan is not a PH component but is allied with the ruling coalition.
Speaking during a function in his constituency of Penampang yesterday, Leiking said that he is confident Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is also Bersatu chairman, will hold to the promise of not spreading its wings to Sabah as agreed before the 14th general election (GE14), Bernama reported.
He added that he was confident Bersatu President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will also take the same approach to honour the understanding even though it was not written.
According to Leiking, the unwritten understanding remains as the basis of the good relation between Warisan and Bersatu.
“I want to stress that there is an understanding between Warisan and Bersatu which is not written but the matter had been raised by Tun Dr Mahathir and Tan Sri Muhyiddin before GE14.
“We would like to maintain the understanding. Warisan will continue with the party’s struggle independently but will support and cooperate with PH until the take over of the government on May 12 and since then our relations with PH has been cordial,” he was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Borneo Post reported that about 15,000 Barisan Nasional members, including from 114 Umno branches in Silam led by former Lahad Datu assemblyman Datuk Mohd Yusof Apdal joined Warisan yesterday.
Yusof, is the younger brother of Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal. He is quoted as saying that the former Silam Umno members decided to cross over as they wanted to fight together and bring more development to their area.
Their membership forms were received by Warisan Secretary General Loretto S Padua Jr.
Sabah party moves to bring Bersatu to the state
Darell, who is also the International Trade and Industry Minister, was commenting on the special motion to bring Bersatu into Sabah, which was passed at the Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah (Harapan Rakyat) annual general assembly yesterday.
This follows nine out of the 10 state assemblymen and four out of the six MPs from Sabah Umno having left the party last week, declaring themselves as independent lawmakers for now. Most of the Sabah Umno division chiefs also announced that they had quit the party in the same press conference.
The ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan comprises four parties – PKR, DAP, Parti Amanah Negara and Bersatu – but is allied with Warisan, which leads the Sabah government, due to the close ties between its president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and Bersatu’s top three leaders – Mahathir, Muhyiddin and Mukhriz Mahathir, who is deputy president.
Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah is a PH-friendly party, founded in 2016 by former Sabah PKR chief leader Lajim Ukin.
Warisan or Bersatu, ex-Umno lawmakers back Mahathir
Leiking’s comments however, raises the concern that Warisan will take in these ex-Sabah Umno leaders, so as to strengthen its position, compared with PKR and DAP in the Sabah state assembly.
With the support that Warisan has for Bersatu, over the other PH component parties, it also strengthens Mahathir’s position in the Dewan Rakyat as his party.
This follows the resignations of six MPs from Umno in the peninsula last week, two days after their Sabah counterparts.
Bersatu which only won 13 seats in GE14, had already added three more with Umno defections in the peninsula in recent months. With the six more MPs from the peninsula, the total number of MPs in Bersatu could be presumed to be 22.
Bersatu not a minnow anymore
With the nine Warisan MPs and the four who have left Sabah Umno, the total support for Mahathir and Bersatu increases to 35 MPs. That will give it more leverage against PKR (50) and DAP (42) in the Dewan Rakyat.
Some have argued that Mahathir is willing to accept these ex-Umno lawmakers in order to strengthen PH’s position by getting a two-thirds majority in Dewan Rakyat.
With the 10 seats – Sabah (4) and peninsula (6) – the total MPs from PH, Warisan and Upko (Sabah) and those friendly to PH now totals 139. That is still nine short of the 148 needed to hold a two-third majority in the Dewan Rakyat.