Over half of Sabah Umno leaders leaving

(The Star) – Sabah Umno is crumbling as its top leaders, particularly its assemblymen, MPs and senators, are making a mass exodus today. The exodus is also expected to see more than half of the 25 Umno division leaders leaving the party.

The speculation is that they will position themselves as independents who are friendly towards Pakatan Harapan and Parti Warisan Sabah. Sabah Umno has 10 Umno assemblyman, six MPs and two senators.

In GE14, the party won 17 state seats and seven parliamentary seats. Seven of its assemblymen have defected to Warisan and PKR while Kimanis MP Datuk Seri Anifah Aman quit and became an independent in September and has remained Pakatan-friendly.

A senior party official said it was a major move out from Umno.

“Talks are still ongoing but most elected representatives will leave,” said the sources on condition of anonymity. Other sources declined to say if Sabah Umno had discussed with the party leadership about the move. They, however, said Umno was no longer the right political vehicle for Sabah.

“It was quite clear from the results of GE14 that Sabahans have swung towards local-based parties with a mood for change in the national level.

“They (leaders) preferred to move en bloc either to Warisan or Bersatu (Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia) though it was unlikely that all will take the same position.

“It does not spell the end of Umno in Sabah. it will be weakened no doubt,” added the sources.

Kinabatangan MP Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, however, claimed that he was unaware of the so-called mass exodus while Beluran MP Datuk Seri Ronald Kiandee said “see what will happen today”, apparently referring to a press conference on the issue.

Karanaan state assemblyman Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun, who is Sabah Umno secretary, said a press conference would be held at a hotel at noon.

Talk of Sabah Umno elected representatives leaving the party has been rife in the last four months with the state Umno wanting the central leadership to “close shop” in Sabah to allow them to take over a local party.

Umno headquarters, however, offered more autonomy to them.