We didn’t want to betray people, says Upko on decision to form govt

Upko information chief Lawrence Ambu says the party didn’t demand any conditions when it wanted to team up with Warisan to form the state government. (Facebook pic)

KOTA KINABALU: United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) reiterated today that its decision to jump ship and join the Warisan-PH coalition was done because the people wanted change.

Commenting on a statement by Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Joseph Pairin Kitingan that Upko had betrayed BN, its information chief Lawrence Ambu said Upko’s decision to leave BN and form a coalition government with Warisan, DAP and PKR came after it considered that 60% of the voters had voted against BN and wanted change.

“When Upko’s then acting president Wilfred Madius Tangau met Warisan president Shafie Apdal, no terms and conditions were given by Upko.

“Upko only stated it had heard the voice of the majority and offered to form a coalition government,” he said.

Furthermore, Ambu accused PBS of being the actual cause of BN’s downfall in Sabah, having failed to deliver its seats in the election.

He said while Pairin is concerned only about being in the government, Upko’s intention was always about respecting and fulfilling the wishes of the majority of people.

Without a clear mandate from the people, he said forming the government based on minority support would be the ultimate betrayal of democracy and the aspirations of the people.

When PBS left BN in 1990

Besides, Ambu said, when it comes to betrayal, Pairin should remember that in 1990, on the eve of the general election, he decided to take PBS out from BN and joined forces with Semangat 46 only after managing to convince the BN leadership then to allow PBS to use its own logo to represent BN.

“This was the ultimate betrayal when after securing an advantage of using its own logo and managing to ensure no other component BN parties would stand in their respective parliamentary constituencies, he decided to abandon his partners in BN,” he said.

Ambu also found it amusing that while accusing Upko of being traitors to BN, Pairin himself left BN a few days later, citing they were forced to do so because of a sudden turn of events.

“What could that turn of events be? That the majority of the people had rejected BN? This is another hypocritical and ambiguous reason given by Pairin to justify the party’s action but he is now condemning Upko.

“If it was indeed true that PBS wanted to respect the wishes of the voters, it should have stayed put in BN.

“So Pairin and PBS should start owning up to their own failures and weaknesses.

“There is a reason why PBS lost so many seats in the recent general election. Surely, it was not because of Upko’s decision,” he said.

In his speech at the opening of the PBS Congress on Thursday, Pairin said Upko betrayed PBS even after signing the Presidential Council agreement, a partnership between three political parties, namely PBS, Upko and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS).

Upko contested in six state seats in the May 9 election, winning five of them. Four of the assemblymen, except Bobbey Suan of Nabawan, decided to follow the party and changed their allegiance from BN to Warisan.

As a result, Tangau, who is the Tuaran MP, was rewarded with the Deputy Chief Minister’s post and Kadamaian assemblyman Ewon Benedick was appointed the state rural development minister by Shafie, who was sworn in as chief minister, two days after former Sabah BN chief Musa Aman took his oath as the chief minister.