Winds of change in Sabah opposition parties

Christina Liew

(The Star) – Sabah’s national opposition parties are being hit by a flurry of speculation that more of their elected representatives may quit to join former Umno vice-president Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal’s Sabah local-based party.

The political guesswork has been increasing since PKR vice-president and Penampang MP Darell Leiking quit earlier this month to join forces with Shafie in the takeover of a registered “shell” party which they will be renaming.

Not spared in the speculation is Sabah PKR chairman Datuk Lajim Ukin, who is said to be setting the stage to take over an existing party in Sabah, while DAP’s Likas assemblyman Junz Wong is also among the names bandied about to join Shafie.

When contacted Tuesday, Lajim denied any such plans, saying that it is all mere speculation.

“It is not true,” said the veteran Sabah politician, who declined to answer questions on claims in political circles that he is going lead his own political party that might rival Shafie’s local party.

Wong, who is Sabah DAP secretary, also dismissed claims that he is leaving the party to join the local opposition front.

However, he said: “I think Shafie’s move is good for Sabah, a fresh approach is sometimes good for Sabah.”

More clearer in the picture is PKR’s Moyog assemblyman Terrence Siambun, who is likely to move when Shafie and Darell launch their party next month.

Also widely named is PKR’s Api Api assemblyman Christina Liew (pic), who is among those who may move with Shafie or Lajim. However, the party loyalist has yet to respond vocally and has kept a low profile.

DAP’s Kapayan assemblyman Dr Edwin Bosie, who has been posturing to quit for several months, is widely seen to be heading for a Barisan Nasional component party.

According to political observers, the movement of national-based opposition party leaders is the result of the belief that those under Pakatan Harapan will not be able to win the state from Sabah Barisan Nasional.

“The 2013 general election was the best show by the national opposition. They won 11 state seats (PKR 7 and DAP 4) and three seats in Parliament (DAP 2 and PKR 1).

“They know that they can’t win the state and they need a Sabah-based platform to be in tune with Sabah sentiments,’’ an opposition leader, who declined to be named, said of the current political flux in Sabah.

He said the move now is lateral – within opposition parties – with the hope that they can work out a deal to field one candidate per constituency against Sabah Barisan.