Sabah govt rock-solid, assures Liew

Tan Yih Pey

Warisan permanent chairman Liew Vui Keong says if the federal government falls again, Sabah reps who opted to join Perikatan ‘will be in no man’s land’. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, July 25, 2020.

RUMOURS of Sabah assemblymen defecting to Perikatan Nasional are just that, rumours, said Liew Vui Keong, giving an assurance that there will not be a change of state government anytime soon.

The Parti Warisan Sabah permanent chairman told a webinar hosted by The Malaysian Insight that his party, United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko) and Pakatan Harapan partners still control the state assembly, and there is no need for anyone to switch parties.

“The Sabah government is as solid as a rock.”

It was reported that several Warisan politicians have been approached to join PN.

The latest was Kota Belud MP Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis, who lodged a police report against a man who allegedly harassed her to support the ruling federal pact. This was revealed in the Dewan Rakyat by Azis Jamman (Warisan-Sepanggar) on Thursday.

There is talk that the Warisan-led Sabah administration is set to fall to PN, with sources reported as saying at least 14 reps have agreed to abandon Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal.

Warisan has 33 reps plus five nominated assemblymen in the 65-seat state assembly. Upko has two, while PH components DAP and PKR hold six and two, respectively.

Former law minister Liew said in all, the Warisan administration controls 48 seats.

Gabungan Bersatu Sabah, meanwhile, has eight seats, and Barisan Nasional, one.

Following defections recently, there are now two independent reps in the assembly.

“Of the 17 Sabah Umno elected representatives, all have left the party except for former chief minister Musa Aman of Sg Sibuga,” said Liew.

“The 16 others have joined either Warisan or Bersatu.

“The ruling parties currently hold two-thirds of the seats in the assembly, so the Sabah government is rock-solid.”

At least 14 Sabah assemblymen have reportedly agreed to abandon Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, July 25, 2020.

Panel speaker Dr Oh Ei Sun, a senior researcher at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, believes that despite Sabah having a history of “frog politicians” who party-hop, it is unlikely that dozens of assemblymen will switch parties at the same time.

After PN entered Putrajaya, he said, its components discovered that they are competing for the same voter demographic.

“Should any Warisan or PH assemblyman want to defect, they face the problem of having to choose between two camps: the Umno camp led by former chief minister Musa or the camp headed by state Bersatu chairman Hajiji Mohd Noor.”

He said both parties have yet to decide which will play the leading role.

“They must first resolve this issue before they can prompt lawmakers to switch sides.”

Liew said with Warisan and PH still the ruling parties in Sabah, there is “no reason” for their reps to leave for a coalition that has yet to form the state government.

“There are also risks for those who decide to leave, because the current (federal) government led by Muhyiddin Yassin does not have many bargaining chips.

“If the federal government falls again, the Sabah politicians who chose to quit will be in no man’s land.”

He said it is regrettable that PH did not formulate an anti-hopping law, which was part of the institutional reforms it promised, sooner.

The previous administration was originally scheduled to table the bill in Parliament this month, he added.

“However, after the change of government, the bill could not be tabled. I hope that the current law minister will see the reforms through.” – July 25, 2020.

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