KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders have rubbished claims by Parti Warisan Sabah that the ruling coalition is losing support in the state’s rural areas.
Warisan president Shafie Apdal had claimed the defection of former Umno and PBS members in Sabah’s northern Kota Marudu district recently meant people had lost their confidence in BN.
He said this after receiving Warisan application forms, belonging to over 1,600 people, supposedly comprising mainly former Umno and PBS members, in a ceremony at Kg Tambun Laut in Kota Marudu.
PBS deputy president and incumbent Kota Marudu MP Maximus Ongkili brushed aside the claim, pointing out there were no resignation letters from the Tandek PBS division, which is part of the Kota Marudu parliamentary constituency.
“These so-called PBS members left the party after the 13th general election to join PKR and the opposition.
“This is just a typical stale propaganda of Warisan.
“Our checks show just over 100 persons attended the Warisan event last Saturday, with the majority coming from outside Kota Marudu,” he said.
The energy, green technology and water minister said the BN election machinery in Kota Marudu was ready for GE14, based on a dry run held in the district, 130km from here, today.
Ongkili said the dry run tested the BN’s election machinery’s readiness, and the success showed that PBS and the coalition are raring to face the opposition in GE14.
Describing the dry run as a success, he said 92 of the 100 people called to take part “came out to vote”.
“I hope that on polling day, voters will show similar support, rain or shine,” he said, adding Kota Marudu BN will also be holding the GE14 dry run for Matunggong tomorrow (March 27).
Sabah deputy Umno information chief Ramlee Marahaban also agreed with Ongkili, clarifying there had been no official resignations from Umno members as well.
“My advice to Shafie is please do not resort to cheap propaganda. Our people know the truth and will not be fooled.
“The people are bored of Warisan and that is why not many are going to their rallies any more.
“Those who attend are mostly the same people and don’t necessarily come from the area (where the event is held),” he said.
On the purported 1,600 former BN members joining Warisan, Ramlee believed Warisan had merely come up with the numbers for the sake of portraying increased support for the opposition.
“But the reality is, we did not receive any resignation letters from anyone in Umno,” he said, calling former Umno leaders like Ibrahim Menudin and others within Warisan now as has-beens.
“It’s a good thing they left Umno because they would have been a liability rather than a strength for BN.”
He said the Muslim Bumiputera community in Semporna, where Shafie is the MP, is also strongly backing BN.
“The support is still solid in Semporna because the people are already aware who Shafie is,” Ramlee said.
He was also perplexed by the Warisan president’s continued attacks on fellow BN component party PBS.
Meanwhile, Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah (PHRS) deputy president Maijol Mahap also confirmed that most of the people who attended Warisan’s event in Kota Marudu were not Kg Tambun Laut residents.
“I was told by residents there that most of those who went for the function were not villagers there and maybe not even from Kota Marudu.”
While he respected any decision by anyone to join Warisan, he said many former BN members had also become members of his party.
“They (Warisan) have confidence but we have, too. My team has been working hard since GE13 to win support from the people and we’ll continue to do so.
“But having said that, I’m still hoping and waiting for cooperation from other opposition parties,” Maijol said.
PHRS is part of the opposition coalition Gabungan Sabah, which also consists of the Sabah Progressive Party, Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Sabah STAR) and Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah.