In defection-prone Sabah, ex-Umno reps unfazed by Zahid’s threat to sue

Balung assemblyman Osman Jamal, Kemabong assemblyman Jamawi Jaafar and Sebatik assemblyman Abdul Muis Picho.

KOTA KINABALU: Former Barisan Nasional (BN) assemblymen in Sabah, where post-election defection among politicians is a norm, appear unfazed by Umno’s threat to sue elected representatives from the party who switched sides in the aftermath of the May 9 polls.

“I am not worried, there’s no problem,” said Balung assemblyman Osman Jamal, now a PKR member.

“If it needs to go to court, then I will leave it to the court to decide,” he told FMT.

He also said the threat by Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to sue party MPs and assemblymen who switched sides was unprecedented.

“I think this is the first time in Malaysia.”

During his policy speech at the Umno general assembly on Saturday, Zahid vowed to take legal action against defecting elected representatives to recover money spent for their election campaigns under the BN banner.

“They no longer have the moral basis to remain as elected representatives. The seats belong to Umno. The seats belong to BN supporters,” he said, adding that writs of summons had already been served to these politicians.

But Osman said he had not received any such document.

Kemabong assemblyman Jamawi Jaafar too said he had yet to receive the writ of summons.

“It is up to them, no problem,” he said when asked about Umno’s threat to sue him.

Meanwhile, Sebatik assemblyman Abdul Muis Picho, who crossed over to Warisan, declined to comment when contacted by FMT, but said he had not received the summons.

The trio were among six Sabah Umno assemblymen who jumped ship to pledge support for the Warisan-Pakatan Harapan (PH) pact in the aftermath of the general election.

Others are are Tanjong Batu rep Hamisa Samat, Bolkiah Ismail (Pitas) and James Ratib (Sugut), who has since linked up with Upko.

Osman, Jamawi, Muis, Hamisa, as well as Upko’s Kadamaian rep Ewon Benedick and Paginatan assemblyman Abidin Madingkir, were the first to defect from BN.

BN was initially sworn in as the state government, when a tie of 29 seats with Warisan-PH in the 60-seat state assembly was tipped in its favour, following support from “kingmaker” Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku, which won two state seats.

But Warisan president Shafie Apdal soon got a simple majority after defections from Umno assemblymen.