Malaysian Digest) - An additional three Sabah politicians are set to leave Barisan Nasional for the opposition. The three, all key members of the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) are expected to join in the footsteps of Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin and Datuk Seri Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing, who left the coalition a week ago to become Opposition-friendly politicians.
Sources within the party told Malaysian Digest that the individuals are expected to announce their decision soon.
One of the Upko members, claimed the source, is a senior politician and holds a key leadership position within the party.
“These are people who hold crucial positions within Upko. Their departure will throw Upko will create a massive void within the chain of command and throw the leadership structure of Upko into disarray.
“These individuals are also grassroots leaders, which means that Upko’s supporter base will be torn on who they should follow,” claimed the source.
The source claimed that while things have yet to be decided, the names of the three could be announced during an upcoming rally on August 12 in Kota Marudu, which would feature Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Last week, Lajim and Bumburing announced their decision to leave the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition to form the Sabah Reform Party, a new entity aligned to Pakatan Rakyat. The new party would supposedly champion the illegal immigrants issue as well as poverty matters in the East Malaysian state.
Recent reports had suggested that BN senator Maijol Mahap, is set to announce his intention to leave the BN. The Upko vice president had been quoted in several Sabah political blogs as saying that he “no longer had faith” in BN.
"I no longer had faith that the BN can or will resolve critical issues in Sabah, such as the issue of illegal immigrants which are long lasting, high poverty rate in Sabah, the elimination of racial KDM (Kadazandusun Murut) from the public service and scholarship awards, the land problems, 5% oil royalty, 'Borneo-nization' and the Cabotage Policy,” he was quoted as saying.
Upko president Tan Sri Bernard Dompok had last week remained cryptic on the resignations and refused to be drawn into discussing who would leave next.
“I don’t know, there is a lot of speculation,” he was quoted as saying. “But this is a free country; you can join any party you like and people will also be joining us at Upko,” he had told the media.
BN has sought to play down the impact of Lajim and Bumburing’s resignations, maintaining that it would not have an effect on the political scenario in Sabah. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak
Najib had on Friday said Lajim and Bumburing’s exits would not affect the date of the coming general election, as had been widely speculated, and added that BN was taking measures to strengthen its presence in Sabah.
He also said that despite rumors that several more would follow in the duo’s footsteps by leaving, BN was more than capable of dealing with the matter.
“We are able to face this challenge and will be taking appropriate steps to remedy the situation and strengthen Umno’s and BN’s position,” he was quoted as saying.
Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman had also put up a brave front of the resignations, and said Lajim and Bumburing had left BN to seek higher positions within the Opposition.
He told Mingguan Malaysia yesterday that the duo’s departure would not threaten BN or Umno’s position in the state.
The state BN chief told Mingguan Malaysia in an interview published today that the duo's departure would not threaten Umno or BN's position in the state.
"I think they (Lajim and Bumburing) wanted greater positions than what they had. There are some with big ambitions and surely this is what they would do... this is every individual's right.
"Umno and BN is not threatened. Sabahans are smart enough to gauge who is right,” he was quoted as saying.