Sabah political turmoil to force unity govt on Hajiji, say analysts 

Desmond Davidson

Analysts say the political turmoil in Sabah last week was engineered by Umno and Warisan to force Chief Minister Hajiji Noor to accept a unity government. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, January 11, 2023.

THE turmoil that rocked Sabah last week was mere “drama” staged by Umno and Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) to force Chief Minister Hajiji Noor to take in parties not in the current state administration, political analysts said. 

The parties they referred to were Warisan, Pakatan Harapan (PH), and Sabah Umno. 

Political analyst Awang Azman Awang Pawi of University Malaya said these parties wanted Sabah to have a unity government.

“It was all drama to get Anwar involved. In the end, he stepped in and proposed a unity government,” Awang told The Malaysian Insight.

“It’s a political strategy to ensure Sabah has a unity government similar to the one in Putrajaya,” he added. 

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, on his way home after a state visit to Indonesia, made a stopover in Kota Kinabalu on Monday to hold talks with the warring leaders. 

Sabah Umno chairman Bung Moktar Radin and Warisan president Mohd Shafie Apdal later said Anwar had proposed a unity government as the solution and they fully supported the proposal. 

University of Tasmania’s Asian governance expert James Chin said while a unity government might calm things down, Sabah would not have political stability until a dominant party emerged. 

The political situation in Sabah, he said, mirrored that of the country after the recent general election. 

“There’s just no dominant party. With no dominant party, you will have political instability.” 

Chin said having a unity government was possible, but it could at the same time be problematic for Hajiji. 

He said that in politics, there are no permanent enemies and no permanent friends, but Hajiji would find it hard to trust Bung again. 

“Hajiji can never trust him 100% as Bung would definitely try again (to seize the chief minister’s post). 

“At the end of the day, it all boils down to the personal ambitions of Bung and Shafie,” Chin said. 

“An election would be the ideal solution to select new political leaders.” 

Chin pointed out that the downside of an election was the possibility that there would be no clear winner or dominant party.

“So it will be back to square one. 

“Some people will argue that that will no longer be true now, as there is the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS), the current ruling coalition, which is a solid bloc. 

“I don’t think so. Sabah is still divided four ways – GRS, Warisan, PH, and Sabah Umno.” – January 11, 2023. 

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