Sabah BN struggling to regain initiative

As an opposition candidate, defector Wilfred Bumburing will have the support of two former Tuaran MPs to woo voters making him a formidable candidate. 

Joseph Bingkasan, FMT

KOTA KINABALU: If there was one thing that MP Wilfred Bumburing did for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition when he defected to the opposition in July, it was to force the disparate  BN branch in Tuaran to unite.

With the opposition in the state, seen by the BN as their ‘fixed deposit’, gaining ground,  the parliamentary constituency of Tuaran has always been shaky as could be seen by the surge in support for the opposition in the last election.

There has always been a fear within the ruling coalition that the defection of top Sabah BN leaders to the opposition would have a domino effect around the state.

The exit in quick succession from the BN by MPs from Tuaran (Bumburing) and Beaufort (Lajim Ukin) as well as a Senator (Maijol Mahap) and a host of senior political leaders once aligned to Sabah Umno has caused the once mighty coalition to pause.

In Tuaran, the initial shock and constant quarelling resulting from the departure of former Upko deputy president Bumburing who is also its BN chairman, seems to ended for the moment.

Bumburing had cited disillusionment with the BN’s inability to resolve the longstanding question of how hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants had been registered as voters and were now determining the future of the state as among his reasons for leaving.

Several senior leaders of Upko joined him in forming a new party, Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS), to work with the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition in the coming election.

According to sources, Pakatan leader Anwar Ibrahim has given Bumburing an assurance that he would have a say on the candidates to contest in constituencies where the Kadazandusuns are the majority.

Bumburing, who won the Tuaran MP seat in the 2008 election, is expected to defend his seat against the potential BN candidate, his former colleague Wilfred Tangau, the Upko secretary general who made way for him in the 2008 election.

Tuaran comprises the state seats of Kiulu and Tamparuli now held by PBS and Sulaman by Umno.

‘Formidable’ Bumburing

Once considered a BN stronghold, it is now a toss up. Tangau won the seat in the 2004 election when he polled 17,722 votes against PKR’s Ansari Abdullah who garnered 8,555 votes.

The BN saw its winning margin drop significantly in 2008 when Bumburing polled 17,645 votes to Ansari’s 11,023 votes. Independent Ajin Hazin Gagah managed 879 votes.