Tangau set to helm Upko after getting rival’s support

Upko acting president Wilfred Madius Tangau (fifth from left) joins hands with vice-president Ewon Ebin (fourth from left) and other members in Ranau today.

KOTA KINABALU: Upko acting president Wilfred Madius Tangau is set to become the party’s president, following support from his closest rival who backed him today to win the post uncontested.

Upko vice-president Ewon Ebin called for a no-contest for the president’s post after winning unopposed the Ranau Upko division head’s position during its general meeting today.

Ewon suggested that Tangau should win the top spot in Upko uncontested in the party’s polls this October.

“Madius Tangau should be allowed to helm the party,” he said, adding that Tangau had proven himself to be capable of leading the party for now.

He said Upko as a party for the Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) must reflect the community’s unity.

“We must therefore show our unity by allowing the post of president to be uncontested in the coming national Upko triennial general meeting.”

The former Federal minister said the new generation of the KDM community were now beginning to understand Upko’s vision as shown by the influx of new members who joined them today.

Ewon, who won the Ranau MP seat in the 2013 general election, was said to be at loggerheads with the new leadership, which was helmed by Tangau after former president and founder Bernard Dompok retired in 2014.

It led to uncertainty on whether he would be fielded as a candidate in the last polls although he was eventually named to defend the Ranau seat. He lost to PKR’s Jonathan Yassin.

In 2013, he narrowly lost the race for the deputy presidency to Tangau. The party elections became tense after Ewon challenged the results, suggesting that it could have been rigged, having lost by only eight votes against Tangau’s total of 210.

In 2015, Tangau also replaced Ewon as the science, technology and innovation minister, further straining their relations.

Tangau today said despite the attacks and negative comments hurled at the party recently, many still chose to join Upko, adding the party was growing from strength to strength.

He urged the KDM community to rally behind him and unite under the slogan “Misompuru Tokou Sogigisom” (Let’s Unite Forever).

“Upko members must stop any form of factionalism within its ranks, avoid internal problems that would eventually break us apart as in the end, it is our community that will be the loser,” Tangau said.

He also said the party must take lessons from its defeat in three parliamentary constituencies (Ranau, Penampang and Putatan), adding that it was due to a failure of addressing “divisive elements within us”.