Divisional level Umno leaders in Sabah have reiterated their demands for smaller BN partners to hand over their constituencies before the general election.
Sabah Umno’s overbearing attitude and incessant demands are symptomatic of the “big brother” relationship which has sparked a furore within the state Barisan Nasional (BN).
Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) deputy president Eric Majimbun said Sabah has always been seen as a younger brother fit to be “bullied by its big brother in the peninsula”.
“It is a clear example of how Sabah has always been treated by the peninsula-based leaders since the formation of Malaysia. These are leaders from both camps – the government and the opposition,” he said.
Several Umno leaders at divisional level here have again started to demand that its fellow BN partners such as LDP (Liberal Democratic Party), Upko and PBRS (Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah) , hand over their constituencies to Umno at the next election.
Political strategists see the recent move by the peninsula-based Umno as an attempt to crack the whip against the vociferous smaller BN partners who have cried foul over their loss of power in the state government.
Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, who is the state Umno leader and BN chairman, has also ignored the pleas of the smaller parties in his government and promoted members from Gerakan, a peninsula-based party, in his state cabinet.
It has not been lost on many Sabahans that Gerakan has slipped into a powerful position within the state government through the back door.
Gap still glaring
Majimbun, who is also Sepanggar MP, said even the British felt that Sabahans, or at that time its subjects in North Borneo, would not have autonomy without the “big brothers”.
“When the Usno government tried to ignore the big brothers, the latter planted a Sabah leader to topple the state government.
“The same thing happened before that when they promoted a Sabahan as high commissioner to Australia.”
Majimbun was referring to the appointment of Fuad Stephens as envoy to Australia when he was on the verge of forming the Sabah government.
“In 1985 when Sabah voted for change, initially the federal government even refused to acknowledge the people’s mandate,” he said, adding that riots were also organised and illegal immigrants came out in full force.
“The state government was subjected to hardship, administratively and financially,” he said, referring to the problems felt by the then inexperienced Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) government.
Majimbun said that a selected minority was given privileges while the majority was given the cold shoulder for daring to support an “unsanctioned” government.
“After 47 years, the gap between Sabah and Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia is still glaring,” he said.
Majimbun also questioned if the Sabah BN government had surrendered the state’s unique immigration powers ,which the state had fought for prior to the formation of Malaysia.