Sabah-based BN components should call Umno’s bluff and join UBF

The problem is that the BN components claim to be fighting for the people while they know they can no longer achieve this objective within the BN! The people see them as fighting only for their own interests, for their positions and pecuniary benefits. They stay in the BN while at the same time fighting with Umno. They don’t know if Umno is good or bad for them.


What is happening to the BN in Sabah? If one were to make a simple observation, it would be obvious that all is not well, and it has been so for a long time now. While Umno is having its own internal strife, it is also embroiled in clashes with the other component parties, which Umno treats with contempt.

We can go back to 2008 when the then president of LDP resigned his post as Deputy Chief Minister suddenly without stating any reason, and causing a lot of speculation. Since then Umno leaders had antagonized LDP at various levels, including demanding for seats currently held by LDP. Then it demanded seats held by Upko, causing an Upko leader to retort sarcastically, “Go ahead and take it!”

PBRS had clashed with Umno as well with regard to its right to continue to hold on to the Pensiangan seat, causing the PBRS President to warn that PBRS would have to review its position in the BN if Umno takes the seat currently held by him. And then an Umno leader replied arrogantly that PBRS’s departure would make no difference to BN’s position in Sabah. PBRS was simply shown the door and thus ended the argument.

PBS had its own way in showing its fangs by giving an ultimatum with regards to the solution of the problem of the illegal immigrants by a certain year. But it was more of a shadow play, trying to show the KDM voters that PBS was still relevant rather than an honest effort at solving the problem.

What happened to that ultimatum now? Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan has been accused of having betrayed his own people by SBS, a local group, for not defending the opponents of the construction of the Koiduan dam.

Most memorably was Datuk Salleh’s remark to a BN component that “Without us (Umno) you are nothing, and without you we (Umno) are still who we are,” which implied that “You can go ahead and leave, and it will not affect Umno in any way.” But of late LDP’s President had taken on a daring front and made a statement to say that the seats they now hold are “non-negotiable.” 

In the same day the Secretary General of LDP said his party “is not opposing the BN despite being seen as the opposition party in BN.” But he called for a stop to the “rot” in race relations in Malaysia, referring to various negative developments such as the promotion of the idea of 1Bumiputera, the antagonistic media attacks on Christians, the lukewarm action by the KDN against Utusan Malaysia despite the paper’s action in instigating interracial and interreligious conflicts, the finding of Merdeka Centre that Malaysians now have less confidence in ethnic relations in Malaysia (now 66% compared to 85% in 2006).

In the same day as well, the LDP Deputy President, Datuk Chin Su Phin vowed that LDP will continue to voice out the people’s needs, pledging that LDP is willing to sacrifice to fight for the people. Note that before Chin had urged for the completion of the investigation of the money laundering case in Hong Kong involving the Chief Minister. 

Also on the same day LDP Luyang Division Chairman, Datuk Lee Chuen Wan, said BN must walk the talk to gain the people’s confidence, and that BN also has to change its policy in order to stand a good chance of winning the general elections. “If we cannot convince the people, we will have a big problem (in the next general election),” he said very pointedly.

In the same day also, the Sandakan LDP made a joint statement urging the government to handle the inflationary problem of the nation’s economy, saying that “The general Malaysians are the biggest group that has been seriously hit by the hike of commodities prices. The spending power of the people has dropped tremendously since the past two years. Life has become more and more difficult.”

All these statements came at the same day that the Chief Minister said the state Barisan Nasional, “especially Umno Sabah,” is ready for the 13th general election, while the LDP President urged his leaders to prepare for the general elections, but with a warning that “The battlefield has now changed and the mindset of the people is also changing.”

The overall tone form LDP is that it is not confident that the current trends in BN Sabah is conducive enough for a victory in the coming general election, with BN needing to “walk the talk” to gain the people’s confidence, with inflationary trends in commodities prices, with the mindset of the people changing. As much as the leaders of LDP and other BN components want to say how confident they are about winning in the GE13, they just cannot stop themselves from saying how dangerous the situation is for the BN because of internal and external problems affecting the Sabah BN at the moment.

From their statements it is very clear the BN is facing a crisis of confidence from the people. And from their own surveys, they can see clearly that all is not well for the BN. They are not dumb. They can sense that the electorate is now more enlightened and are aware of the many problems, and that they can see when a party or a leader is trying to hoodwink them.

The problem is that the BN components claim to be fighting for the people while they know they can no longer achieve this objective within the BN! The people see them as fighting only for their own interests, for their positions and pecuniary benefits. They stay in the BN while at the same time fighting with Umno. They don’t know if Umno is good or bad for them.

But now the time has come for them to realize that there is only one way out of their dilemma. If they are really fighting for the people, they must make a very firm stand now, to fully side with the people by leaving the BN before the general election! They should join under the UBF to fight for the Borneo Agenda.

The LDP says it is willing to sacrifice for the people, and what better way to do that than sacrificing their positions now and joining the opposition? If the KDM parties also take the same step, the state BN, and most importantly Umno, will be severely crippled. This is the only way to kill Sabah Umno and to get the party packing up and go back to the Peninsular! Umno has been telling the other components that it can stand on its own (“Without you we are still who we are”), so call this bluff, take their challenge and leave Umno en bloc, and see what happens to Umno.

Ask yourselves, will the KDM still vote for BN if the PBS is no longer in BN? Will the Chinese still vote for the BN if the LDP has left it? Umno may then decide to stand in all the 60 seats because this is what it had been wanting to do all these years. Salleh had said Sabah will continue to be a fixed deposit for the BN, but see if this is true if only Umno is left alone in the Sabah BN. 

By leaving Umno now, the Sabah BN components can create what we can call a reverse takeover of another sort. The present Sabah-based BN components can group together on the other side of the political divide now, stand for the Borneo Agenda, and deliver the coup de grace that will kill Umno and change the political history in Sabah. This way they will still be the government at the end of the day, and in tune with the aspiration of the people. 

They must ask themselves if the current arrangement will benefit them in the longer run. The people have lost respect for them, and they are seen as puppets trying to be heroes in a situation where they are being bullied into submission all the time.  And then there is another huge problem that they may have not seen yet. Even if the state BN can muster a victory in GE13 (with a lot ‘magic’ tricks with money and cheating), the real possibility of the Peninsular going into the opposition’s hands is looming like a dark cloud above their heads.

The anti-BN sentiment in the Peninsular has reached a crescendo, has peaked, so much that even the Sabahan youths working there are calling their parents in Sabah to say their parents need to realize that the tsunami of change has enveloped the whole of the Peninsular “while you people are still blindly supporting the BN in Sabah!”

This is the biggest threat to the Sabah BN components. Even if Sabah BN wins in the GE13, Sabah will most likely become an opposition state, in which case their victory will be hollow, and we Sabahans will stand to lose in the process. They need to wise up and see that the best approach in any political manoeuvring is to side with the winner before the battle. Let’s create a bigger window of opportunity with courage, which will be remembered forever.