Join ruling coalition, Shafie invites former Sabah Umno leaders

Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal greeting people at the Christmas open house of Rural Development Minister Ewon Benedick (behind Shafie, in yellow shirt) in Kota Belud.

KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Shafie Apdal today invited the Sabah Umno leaders who quit the party last year to join forces with the state government.

The Warisan president urged them to put aside political differences to work for the betterment of the state.

He also said Warisan was open to them joining the party but there should be no conditions attached.

“There are friends from the other side who have exited Umno and Barisan Nasional.

“If possible, we must unite under the leadership of the present government,” he said at a Christmas open house held by Rural Development Minister Ewon Benedick in Kota Belud today.

Shafie acknowledged that these former Umno leaders might have their own stand on certain issues.

“They also have their dignity but what’s important is that we help each other to achieve the agenda to develop Sabah. It’s not for Warisan, Upko, DAP or PKR, but for the people.

“So we invite them. I hope they will make a good decision based on the interests of the state and people,” said the Semporna MP.

Shafie had previously welcomed the resignation of 14 elected representatives from Sabah Umno but that none of them had applied to join Warisan as yet.

The 14 who left Sabah Umno last December consist of five MPs and nine state assemblymen.

The MPs are Ronald Kiandee (Beluran), Yamani Hafez Musa (Sipitang), Azizah Mohd Dun (Beaufort), Zakaria Edris (Libaran) and Rahim Bakri (Kudat).

The assemblymen are Hajiji Mohd Noor (Sulaman), Masidi Manjun (Karanaan), Japlin Akim (Usukan), Musbah Jameh (Tempasuk), Gulam Haidar Khan (Kawang), Mohd Arifin Arif (Membakut), Isnin Aliasnih (Klias), Matbali Musah (Lumadan) and Nizam Titingan (Apas).

Since the last general election, six Umno elected representatives have switched camps to Warisan, namely Hamisa Samat (Tanjong Batu state seat), Bolkiah Ismail (Pitas), Jamawi Jaafar (Kemabong), Abdul Muis Picho (Sebatik), Saddi Abdul Rahman (Sukau) and Labuan MP Rozman Isli.

Former Upko assemblyman Masiung Banah (Kuamut) joined Warisan last December while former Umno assemblyman James Ratib (Sugut) joined Upko.

With the shifting of allegiance by elected reps, Warisan now has 27 seats in the 60-seat state assembly while Pakatan Harapan (PKR and DAP) has nine and Upko four.

Gabungan Bersatu Sabah, comprising PBS and PBRS, has nine seats while Umno has one assemblyman in Musa Aman (Sungai Sibuga).

The rest, including those who left Umno, are independents.