Did the Sabah state election cost Shafie Apdal his political future?

Zainal Epi, Malay Mail Online

Datuk Shafie Apdal had taken the political gamble to dissolve the state assembly in order to end the “rebellion” against his leadership but failed by just one seat at the just-concluded state election yesterday.

A result that must surely frustrate him.

Any plan he has now to take back his chief minister post will probably remain just that as the reality is his party, set up just a few months before the 2018 general election, has no true solid base ideologically and philosophically to influence and control the minds and hearts of Sabahans, young and old.

He was so busy charting his political future in the federal-based Pakatan Harapan (PH) that he forgot to deliver on election promises to carry out physical and economic development in the state.

In fact, delivery of the promises was one of the many things Sabahans looked forward to when Shafie took over the chief minister post just over two years ago but he failed.

Shafie alone is not to be blamed for the razor-thin defeat but parties in Pakatan Harapan (PH) must share some of the responsibility. DAP and PKR lost some of the seats they won just two years ago.

When dissatisfaction over unfulfilled promises becomes an obsession, it becomes natural the leaders will be questioned and their allies marked.

Sabahans are known to be loyal to leaders of their own tribes and Shafie had depended on the full support of his own tribe forgetting other tribes in the state also needed the same attention from him.

Barisan Nasional (BN) on the other hand has its fixed deposits which did not move since after the 2018 general election and these ready “deposits” became its base — a solid one the peninsular coalition could rely on.

Perikatan Nasional (PN) with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) as its dominant party had banked on Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s popularity when it entered the ring and this has proven to be successful.

Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin formed Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) by pooling local parties that are of the same minds when it comes to ideas on how to develop the state. But most importantly, they were united in their desire to “politically kill” Shafie.

Hammering into the minds and hearts of voters that Muhyiddin had succeeded in containing the Covid-19 pandemic while at the same time sustaining and reviving the economy, Hamzah managed to influence voters that Muhyiddin should be given the chance to develop the state minus Shafie.

For GRS and BN, the real test of their friendship and relationship is in the scramble to decide who should be the chief minister.