Sabah Umno man claims Bung has autonomy as rift in chapter widens

State information chief Suhaimi Nasir accuses Abdul Rahman Dahlan of seeking to replace Bung Moktar Radin as the Sabah Umno chief.

(FMT) – Sabah Umno chief Bung Moktar Radin has the autonomy to decide on the state chapter’s political alliances and even sign the “watikah” (letter of appointment) for candidates, claims a state party leader.

Sabah Umno information chief Suhaimi Nasir denied a claim made by Bung’s deputy, Abdul Rahman Dahlan, that the central Umno leadership had revoked the chapter’s autonomy.

Suhaimi claimed that during a recent meeting with the state leadership, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said “all matters related to the Sabah state election are under Bung’s authority”.

However, he said, Zahid simply wanted its strategies and partnerships to be aligned with the situation at the federal level, particularly between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan.

“(Rahman) said the central (leadership) didn’t give us autonomy, but that’s not true. The president himself informed us we will decide on matters involving candidates and our partners for the state polls.

“But for parliamentary (seats), that’s under the central Umno leadership,” the Libaran MP told FMT.

On Tuesday night, Rahman said the Umno Supreme Council rejected Sabah Umno’s request for autonomy in the choice of its allies to avoid “awkward situations”.

Rahman, an Umno Supreme Council member, said the central leadership also wanted to ensure that decisions made by the states were in line with its stance.

Suhaimi accused Rahman of being on a “mission” to topple and replace Bung as the Sabah Umno chief.

“However, this mission has not materialised to this day. When he invited Zahid to the Tuaran Umno meeting the other day, he thought the party president would announce that he would take over the post, but that didn’t happen,” he said.

“Zahid is mature enough to evaluate and determine who deserves to lead Sabah Umno,” he said, adding that Rahman was not influential enough to lead the state chapter.

Suhaimi also pointed out that the former two-term Kota Belud MP had lost in elections several times, which meant that he was not accepted by Sabahans.

Rahman was Kota Belud MP from 2008 to 2018. In the 2018 general election, he contested for the Sepanggar parliamentary seat but lost to Warisan’s Azis Jamman.

In the 2022 general election, he went back to Kota Belud but lost to Warisan’s Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis.

In December last year, Warisan president Shafie Apdal announced that his party will be working with Sabah Umno to take on Gabungan Rakyat Sabah in the next state election. The announcement was made at Warisan’s general assembly, with Bung in attendance.

This was swiftly denied by Rahman, who said no decision had been made on the matter.

Bung and Rahman locked horns again recently after Tuaran Umno invited GRS chairman Hajiji Noor, Sabah’s chief minister, to a divisional meeting also attended by Zahid and Rahman.

Bung claimed he was not invited but Rahman said all Sabah Umno division chiefs were invited to the meeting.