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Warisan and Sabah Umno teaming up against GRS in PRN?

KOTA KINABALU:  Parti Warisan and Sabah Umno are still discussing the possibility of teaming up against the ruling Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) in the coming State elections (PRN).

If recent remarks by Warisan President Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Shafie Apdal and Sabah Umno Chief Datuk Seri Panglima Bung Moktar Radin are any indication, it appears that both parties are treading cautiously when it comes to potential collaboration in the forthcoming polls.

 Shafie has said his party does not mind working with Sabah Umno, as long as the cooperation is directed towards the well-being of the people in the state.

The two parties are set to take on the GRS coalition led by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji Haji Noor.

Hajiji had recently said that the state elections can be held anytime but he is yet to get the inspiration to advice the Yang Dipertua Negeri to dissolve the State Legislative Assembly. The election is only due in September next year.

Bung expressed caution by stating that Sabah has not yet made a decision on the matter.

He emphasised that the party is taking careful steps before finalising any decision to work with other parties, including Warisan.

Bung previously stated that “Sabah UMNO and BN do not want to be betrayed again” (once bitten twice shy), indicating a sense of wariness after learning about Umno and GRS being together previously.

The statements from Shafie and Bung suggest that Warisan and Sabah Umno are engaged in a guessing game as the election approaches.

In fact, not many people know, especially the youth, that Sabah UMNO has been granted “autonomy” to determine the direction of the party’s struggle in this state.

Local political analyst Musli Oli believes that, while Warisan seems keen on forming an alliance with Sabah Umno, the latter remains undecided.

He suggested that some Sabah Umno leaders might be reluctant to collaborate with Warisan due to concerns that such collaboration could potentially bolster the latter’s strength and increase Shafie’s chances of becoming chief minister over Bung.

Musli also highlighted Sabah Umno’s fear of being betrayed again, recalling past experiences with broken promises.

Additionally, he said Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Malaysia (KDM) has decided to contest independently in the upcoming PRN but remains open to forming alliances to form the next state government.

KDM is now focused fully on the coming State Election (PRN) which is expected to be called soon.

Its president, Datuk Peter Anthony, said that with the party leadership consisting of old and new faces, he believed KDM will shine in the coming PRN, especially at Kadazan, Dusun and Murut (KDM) districts.

Opposition parties in Sabah are treading carefully due to the increasing strength of the GRS government, seen as an alliance of local parties.

For now, Musli said that Pakatan Harapan (PH) appears to be committed to supporting the GRS government.

However, the situation may change once the state assembly is dissolved, especially if PH is not content with the seat allocation in PRN.

Similarly, Musli said that other GRS component parties such as the United Sabah National Organisation (USNO) and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) might withdraw from the coalition.

He emphasised that, despite being the ruling party, GRS must not become complacent and not underestimate their opponents.

It is crucial for GRS to recognise the strength of parties like Warisan, Umno/BN, PH, and KDM, are capable of springing a surprise in the next PRN, he said.

Nonetheless, Musli highlighted that ultimately, the people will decide which parties should govern the state post-PRN. This development is worth monitoring and is interesting, he said.

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