Was Salleh voicing Musa’s concern?

Umno Sabah chief Musa Aman is relying on his deputy Salleh Keruak’s strategy to contain rival Shafie Apdal.

Observers said while the trio (Musa, Salleh and Shafie) may look calm and cordial with each other in public, they could turn from cordial to nasty within seconds. The Shafie and Musa discord goes back to the manner by which the former carried out his federal ministry’s huge annual development fund in Sabah.

Luke Rintod, Free Malaysia Today

Last weekend in Kota Belud, the so-called birth-place of Umno in Sabah, the party’s state deputy president Salleh Said Keruak gave a stinging reminder to possible party-detractors.

He said those who were contemplating ditching Umno if they are not re-nominated in the coming general election, would be ‘ignored’.

Salleh, who is a local boy, issued this warning during a special meeting with a group of Umno’s Kadazandusun leaders from Kadamaian.

Kadamaian is one of the three state constituencies under the Kota Belud parliamentary constituency. The other two are Tempasuk and Usukan.

He also warned Umno leaders not to brag about their own achievements. He told them not to take credit for development in their respective constituencies.

“Those leaders who glorify their own selves for (their) own political agenda are putting the party at ransom and should be ignored in the coming general election,” he warned.

Salleh, who is also Sabah Legislative Assembly Speaker, said the success achieved by Umno thus far was the result of collective work and the effective implementation of numerous policies.

He said loyalty to the party’s struggle is therefore crucial in cementing its success, and so potential detractors would be dealt with accordingly by the party.

Now who was Salleh aiming at?

Was it a warning to top leaders like Lajim Ukin who had so far failed to convincingly quell rumours that he was quitting Umno on Jan 31?

The list of possible detractors, it is now openly being said, includes Umno’s Bongawan assemblyman Karim Bujang and a former Chief Minister, Osu Sukam. Both are from the Papar area just south of Kota Kinabalu.

Salleh voicing Musa’s concern

Before this, another two Umno strongmen, Ghapur Salleh (MP Kalabakan) and Bung Mokhtar Raden (MP Kinabatangan), in the east, had also been linked to the rumour.

But insiders said both Ghapur and Bung may have been cajoled into sticking with Umno, at least until the conclusion of the general election.

Is Umno chief Musa Aman aware of Salleh’s terse warning?

Party insiders said Salleh’s speech was crafted to coincide with the ongoing Lajim’s rumour.

They said Musa, who is also Chief Minister, is “disturbed” by the rumours of Lajim leaving, as it would put a dent on his otherwise unchallenged leadership in the vast state.

Groups aligned to Musa are rumoured to be scheming to eliminate all possible threats to Musa, including Lajim.

They claimed Lajim’s recent speeches in Beaufort and Kuala Penyu were “against” Umno and Barisan Nasional. Some of Lajim’s boys are said to be already in Sabah People’s Front (SPF).

“They will be trapped in SPF if Lajim doesn’t make good…” said an observer.

They have allegedly ordered thousands of SPF T-shirts and flags, and are opening a big party office in town.

The location of the office however is still a secret location.

Musa relying on Salleh

According to the observer, Lajim’s SPF boys are talking about Jan 31 as an auspicious date to make an “important announcement”.

The roads from Papar to Kuala Penyu, Menumbok and Beaufort meanwhile are already “littered” with SPF flags, some flying from the top of trees, sending a firm signal yet that the influential southern chieftain Lajim will make the plunge.

Musa, who many claim may not always be in the good books of Umno’s president Najib Tun Razak, has meanwhile fortified and consolidated his own position.

He is relying on the undivided support and backing from Salleh, the Bajau chieftain who Musa sidelined in the 2008 general election.

Musa did not re-nominate Salleh to defend his Kota Belud MP seat. Neither did he field Salleh as Usukan assemblyman.

Both political analysts and party insiders agreed that Musa and Salleh are playing politics to stop an east-coast Umno warlord, Shafie Apdal, from snatching the top post from Musa.

Apart from Salleh, Shafie who is currently Umno vice-president, is the only “serious” contender for Musa’s CM-seat.

Shafie, they claimed, is in the good books of Najib. Salleh on the other hand is rumoured to have slighted Najib many years ago when his (Salleh) division refused to nominate Najib for vice presidency. But that was long time ago.

Salleh, a former chief minister himself, however is unlikely to even think of undermining Umno now.

Apparently this is the reason why he’s solidly behind Musa despite having been sidelined in 2008.

He has since gained Musa’s confidence and they have positively clicked and are working well with Umno’s strongest ally Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).