Perfect recipe for chaos and instability

K. Kabilan

The new CM will also have to be mindful of moves by Warisan Plus to tempt defections. This has happened before, and can happen again. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Irwan Majid, September 27, 2020.

THE group of parties under the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah banner bitterly quarreled during seat talks in the run-up to state polls.

There were reports of politicians walking out of meetings after their demands on the number of seats for their parties were not met, and of rows over which party had the right to stand in constituency.

In the end, 17 seats saw more than one candidate from a GRS party, in what they called “friendly fights”.

Throughout the campaign period, there appeared to be a cold war going on, especially between Bersatu and Umno. 

Despite the infighting, this unofficial pact managed to oust Warisan Plus with a simple majority.

In the final tally, GRS won 38 seats, while Warisan Plus took 32, with the last three won by independents.

But that is not the end of the story. Now comes the fight for the chief minister’s post.

Both Bersatu and Umno, the biggest players in GRS, are eyeing this coveted post. Bersatu staked its claim when its president, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, named its Sabah chief Hajiji Mohd Noor for the role.

However, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi objected to this, saying that the decision on the chief minister must be made by Barisan Nasional reps and their political allies post-election.

Sabah Umno chief Bung Moktar Radin’s name had been raised as a potential BN choice.

Both parties were huddled in separate meetings after their victory late last night to plot on who will become the next CM.

Hajiji told reporters after the meetings that the new chief minister will be named later today.

Asked if the chief minister will be from PN or BN, he said: “Let it be a mystery (for now).”

Whoever is picked for the job will have a tough battle managing the ruling pact, which does not appear to be held together by loyalty.

There are too many players in GRS, with each realising that they hold the key to the pact’s survival.

Just look at the numbers:

GRS consists of Perikatan Nasional, BN and Parti Bersatu Sabah.

From the 38 seats GRS won, PN took 17, BN has 14 and PBS, 7.

But PN is a partnership of Bersatu (11) and Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku [Star] (6).

Under BN, all 14 seats were won by Umno.

The many layers of partnerships and a razor-thin majority make stability of a GRS government suspect.

Anyone who feels aggrieved can walk away from a pact, and the government will collapse.

PN is in the same situation at the federal level as well.

There is some hope though. Sabah’s constitution allows the chief minister to appoint up to six assemblymen, who will have equal rights as an elected legislator.

This can strengthen the ruling pact’s numbers in the state assembly, but there will surely be fight among GRS partners on these appointments too.

Apart from that, there are three independents who GRS can try to pull to its corner.

Hajiji was already spotted meeting one of them last night – Rubin Balang who won the Kemabong seat.

Another independent, Masiung Banah, who retained his Kuamut seat, is said to be GRS friendly.

Getting the support to form the state government should not be too difficult. The hard part is keeping all of them happy and together in the GRS pact.

The new CM will also have to be mindful of moves by Warisan Plus to tempt defections. This has happened before, and can happen again.

So, we are back to the same situation as before. A state government with a small majority backed by groups with different agenda. Perfect recipe for chaos and instability. – September 27, 2020.

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