Sabah BN assemblymen may go local, ditch Umno

Ewon Benedick of Upko says that all 31 assemblymen supporting Barisan Nasional may come together in a local party.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah assemblymen allied to Barisan Nasional are discussing plans to come out from under Umno’s shadow and gather under a Sabah-based party or join Parti Bersatu Sabah.

Ewon Benedick, newly-elected Kadamaian assemblyman, revealed these plans to reporters today.

He is one of five assemblymen from Upko, the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation, who have agreed to throw their support to Barisan Nasional in forming a new state government.

Benedick said all the 31 assemblymen who support BN had thought the idea to be “interesting”, for them to become members of a local based party, either a new one or PBS, which draws its support from the Kadazandusun community.

He said Sabah BN chairman Musa Aman had pledged to discuss with all Umno assemblymen the possibility of leaving the party and be part of a (different) Sabah BN component member.

“We discussed about forming a new Sabah party but there is already an existing vehicle for us.” PBS president Joseph Pairin Kitingan said his party was prepared to be the vehicle to bring the assemblymen together.

“If this happens, then all sentiments among youths against Umno can be shed, as in Sarawak where all BN component parties are local, without Umno involvement. We have two options but this is our direction now.” He noted that forming a new party would take time.

Benedick and four other Upko assemblymen pledged their support to the Barisan Nasional today for the coalition to retain control of the state government.

BN and its opponents, the alliance of Pakatan Harapan and Parti Warisan, were tied with 29 seats each after polling ended last night.

However, local opposition party Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR), which won two seats, tipped the balance by agreeing to support BN, helping it to form the state government with a simple majority.

STAR’s decision came after Upko’s assemblymen refused to go along with acting president Wilfred Madius Tangau’s decision to leave BN and throw its support to the Warisan-PH alliance.

The five assemblymen insisted on remaining with the others under BN rather than join Warisan and its partners.

He said he and his comrades had not been involved with a reported meeting of Upko’s supreme council which decided to support Warisan.

“We were informed about the meeting but for us the most important thing then was for Musa to be sworn again as chief minister because now we had a simple majority. This was more important than talking about cooperation with Warisan,” stressed Benedick.

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