KOTA KINABALU: A Warisan official today dismissed comments made by an analyst that the party is vulnerable to a split due to the battle for the Warisan deputy presidency.
Christopher Masudal, who is the special officer to Penampang MP Darell Leiking, said there was no hostility between Leiking, who is Warisan deputy president, and the party’s vice-president Peter Anthony.
He said both leaders are friendly with each other.
“I believe the rumours are actually being spread by those who have been indoctrinated with the ‘divide and rule’ concept made famous by Barisan Nasional which ruled Sabah for 24 years.
“So it is understandable that they may need some time to accept the fact that in order for the new Sabah to progress, racial or ethnic polarisation should make way for ‘Bangsa Sabah’.
“So my advice to party members on this matter is not to immediately engage in emotional racial discourse and not to use ‘race’ or ‘ethnicity’ just to win a debate,” he said in a statement here.
Commenting on talk that Leiking will face a challenge in next April’s party election from Anthony, analyst Arnold Puyok, of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, told FMT that Warisan’s lack of a solid multiracial ideology made it vulnerable to a split.
Leiking, the federal international trade and industry minister, is a Kadazan. Anthony, who is state infrastructure development minister, is a Dusun.
They are looked upon as leaders of their respective communities although the Kadazans and Dusuns, along with the Muruts, are now spoken of as belonging to one community – the KDM.
Speculation on the challenge has been swirling for the better part of a year, but have gained strength in recent days.
Responding to this, Masudal said he had come across a news report on the same issue which Puyok had highlighted, adding “it may very well be that some people are simply jealous with the exceptional results that Datuk Darell has achieved as the international trade and industry minister. Hence, they want to instigate party members and destroy Warisan from within.”
Masudal also rubbished the contention made by Puyok that Warisan lacked a strong ideology or a platform on multiracialism.
“How can this be? During the GE14 election campaign, Warisan was bombarded with the accusation of being a Suluk or PTI (illegal immigrant) party.
“But it stood tall and leaders like Datuk Darell, Loretto Padua Jr, Junz Wong and Terrence Siambun fought the vicious racist attacks made against the Suluk ethnic group.
“If defending another indigenous race in Sabah is not being considered as the best portrayal of multiracialism, then I don’t know what it is,” he said.
“In fact, Puyok may remember his analysis back in May 2, 2018, during a talk held by Nottingham University.
“He was way off the mark when he opined that Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal was not getting support within the Kadazan, Dusun and Murut communities and Warisan would fail to make an impact in areas held by these ethnic groups,” Masudal said.
Hence, Masudal said, Puyok’s analysis on the current political dynamics happening in Warisan, admittedly based on rumours and hearsay, may be wrong too.
When asked on the racial politics in Sabah, Masudal said that party members should prevent it from taking root in Warisan because it may cause the downfall of not only the party but the current state government.
“We have seen so many times the KDM leaders use KDM as an issue to fool people. In the end, only these KDM leaders benefitted while the KDM as a whole suffered.
“We’ve seen this when the Sabah BN leaders were in power back then. So, if we once again make race or ethnicity the pivotal point of our political struggle because of the ‘fear of being left out’, then we allow ourselves to be deceived once again.
“Young Malaysians from West Malaysia, irrespective of whether they’re Malays, Chinese or Indians, believe that the ‘fear of being left out’ tactic has actually never benefitted them, particularly in terms of economic, education or social progression,” he said.
As such, they vented their frustrations during GE14 and caused the collapse of Umno and total annihilation of MCA and MIC, Masudal said.
“The same pattern could be seen in Sabah too, with several KDM-based leaders from BN defeated.
“So racial politics is not the key to success anymore and it may very well be the key to failure,” he said.
“Shafie had also stressed that race politics is over and we must stand up for all Sabahans as this is the way for us to rebuild Sabah with the federation,” he added.