Bersatu to accept ex-Umno leaders

(The Star) – Fifteen former Sabah Umno members are expected to be taken in as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia members first before the party formally spread its wings to Sabah.

Bersatu is expected to take in the eight assemblymen, five MPs and two senators, a source here said.

There will be a date for the official acceptance of the MPs and assemblymen before the state launch, the source said.

“We believe the move could be as early as next week after the Semenyih by-election,” he added.

“The official admission (of the MPs and assemblymen) to the party is more important.

“The rest, like the launch and set up of the state liaison committee and pro-tem divisions, will be done later,” he added.

The lawmakers, headed by former Sabah Umno chairman Datuk Seri Hajiji Mohd Noor, left Umno to become independents on Dec 12.

Bersatu chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad last month announced the party’s decision to spread its wings to Sabah despite objections by its political ally Parti Warisan Sabah led by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

Hajiji, who is widely seen as the Sabah Bersatu chief, and his group are claiming that they have some 100,000 former Umno members who have filled up application forms and are waiting to be accepted by the party.

The move to accept the five former Sabah Umno MPs would strengthen Bersatu’s presence in Parliament while making its presence felt in Sabah, where two Pakatan Harapan partners, DAP and PKR, are in Shafie’s state coalition government.

Sabah Umno won seven of the 25 parliament seats in Sabah in the May 9 general election last year while it only managed to win 18 of the 60 state seats as Sabah Barisan Nasional lost its hold in the state.

Nine of the Umno assemblymen left the party in the weeks after the elections to join Warisan and other state coalition partners while former foreign minister and Kimanis MP Datuk Seri Anifah Aman left to become an independent in September last year.

Sabah Umno is now left with Kinabatangan MP Datuk Seri Bung Mokthar Radin, who is heading the party, while Sabah’s longest-­serving chief minister of 15 years, Tan Sri Musa Aman, remains an ordinary member and Sungai Sibuga assemblyman.