God thwarted a man-made plan to publicly 'unite' opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim with BN leader Wilfred Bumburing recently.
The reason for all that twitching and wincing was that had the weather permitted, Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto leader of PKR, would have been sitting side by side with a senior Sabah Barisan Nasional leader at a Harvest Festival celebration here.
Not that that in itself was any reason for the unease. Rather the unusually blunt criticism by a few Sabah government leaders of late had federal government leaders on edge.
Anwar being anywhere in the vicinity of hyperventilating BN leaders is enough to have jittery government politicians moping their brows from the heat wave blowing their way.
This time the rains did the job for them. Anwar’s flight was diverted, he missed his appointment and UPKO deputy president Wilfred Bumburing, was ‘alone’ at the Kaamatan celebration held at a remote Dusun kampung here.
It would have been a coup for Anwar to have been seen together with the Dusun leader since talk of Bumburing leaving Upko for PKR had started in earnest more than a month ago.
The plan was thwarted by God, as He sent heavy rains preventing Anwar’s flight from touching down at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) on Sunday and therefore making it impossible for him to travel another one hour or so to Kampung Botung near here to be with Bumburing.
Bumburing, the MP for nearby Tuaran, had agreed to officiate a PKR-initiated Kaamatan celebration at Kg Botung.
It would have been the clearest signal yet to the public that the Upko No 2 was unhappy with the leaders of the ruling coalition.
‘Function, a deliberate plan’
The new deal for Sabah offered by the opposition was finally being embraced. There could be no other reason for Bumburing to agree to officiate an opposition function.
About 150 spectators had braved the heavy rain and waited.
A group of local Upko leaders were also in attendance. They were heard saying they came to “hear” Anwar’s speech and signs of assurance of sorts.
Local organisers Majilis Tangau and Jaujip Pangalin explained to close friends later that Bumburing came to officiate in his capacity as chairman of the Sabah chapter of the Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah-led Amanah, an NGO that has been at times critical of the ruling party.
But among their even closer friends, there seemed to whispers of “tanda-tanda mahu join…”
Both Tangau and Pangalin are believed to be PKR leaders in Kota Belud. Other than them, local PKR leaders who turned up on Sunday were former PKR state women chief Lukia Indan and Kalakau Untol.
PAS was represented by Awang Laiman and DAP by Catherine Chu. Local lawyer Peter Marajin led a group of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) members to the celebration and was treated like a VIP, seated between Bumburing and Kalakau.
The special treatment was not surprising as SAPP has more or less cemented its relationship with PKR, if not with Pakatan Rakyat.
Bumburing in his speech also explained himself by saying he had come to officiate not as a Upko leader but as Amanah national deputy president but many were not convinced.
“It was a deliberate plan to get Anwar and Bumburing at the function” said a local Upko leader who refused to be identified.
‘Nothing happening yet’
He was perplexed as to why they chose Kota Belud to stage their first public meeting and not Tuaran or even Kota Kinabalu where they would get maximum exposure.
Marajin when contacted said Bumburing in his speech spoke at length about why he joined Amanah and the struggle to create an awareness that all Malaysians are equal.
“He mentioned Malaysia’s founding father, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra’s assurances to the Borneo people of preserving their rights under the new nation.
But Marajin brushed off Bumburing’s talk about Amanah’s aims and goals as espoused by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, founder and president of the NGO.
“To me this is another trick to gain support of unthinking Sabahans. Why only now, after 49 long years of discrimination of East Malaysians … suddenly they realise that Sabahans have been unfairly treated by the Malayans.
“He (Razaleigh) was one of the leaders who formulated the policies detrimental to Sabah,” Marajin reminded.
Despite Bumburing’s disinclination to talk about his political status, most believe he is set to leave Upko for PKR. Neither he nor those known to be close to him could be contacted.
An indication that things are in flux are two text message from sources said to be close to him.
They read: “belum lagi ada apa-apa” and “masih bersama Upko” which roughly translates to “nothing yet has happened” and “still with Upko”.
Another Sabah BN leader, Lajim Ukin, who was also rumoured to be ditching BN has also suddenly gone quiet.
Observers say it could be because general election that had been imminent may only be held next year.