PPBM in Sabah could spell trouble for Warisan, says analyst

Shafie Apdal’s Warisan could struggle to retain the support of Malay-Muslim Bumiputera communities if PPBM were to enter the state, says an analyst. (Bernama pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Any move by PPBM to spread its wings to Sabah will leave local party Warisan in a dilemma as the Malay-Muslim Bumiputera communities may be more attracted to the Malay-based PPBM, an analyst says.

Arnold Puyok, who teaches at Universti Malaysia Sarawak, said Warisan was banking on its “multiracial” outlook to gain support in Sabah. However, the Malay-Muslim Bumiputera communities might be more attracted to PPBM which could be seen as serving their interests.

“This is just like what happened when Umno first came into Sabah,” he told FMT.

“Malay supporters in multiracial Parti Bersatu Sabah left the party to support Umno, as the national-based party was seen as a strong alternative in representing their interest.”

He noted that in the general election last year, Malay-Muslim Bumiputera constituencies were split almost evenly between Barisan Nasional (BN) and the Pakatan Harapan (PH)-Warisan alliance.

Political analyst Arnold Puyok says Sabahans are beginning to feel more comfortable with national-based parties.

“Non-Muslim Bumiputera constituencies are still BN loyalists although some have favoured other local parties, while the Chinese constituencies overwhelmingly voted for PH-Warisan.”

While Warisan had succeeded in ending Umno’s dominance in Malay-Muslim communities, he said, there were still many Umno supporters who were undecided on what to do next.

“PPBM could play a role as a new platform for those who have left Umno and are looking to make a comeback.

“The national-based party is set to fill the void left by Umno in these constituencies,” he said.

Warisan’s challenge, Puyok added, was that an increasing number of Sabahans were becoming comfortable with national-based parties which they believed were more capable of championing state interests and bringing issues directly to the attention of federal lawmakers in Parliament.

“If the results of the last three general elections, including GE14, are anything to go by, national-based parties are more popular than local-based parties,” he said.

In GE14, local-based parties like Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah, Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah, Parti Kebangsaan Sabah and Parti Cinta Sabah contested but lost.

“The so-called Gabungan Sabah only garnered 5% of the popular votes in Malay-Muslim Bumiputera areas, 17% in non-Malay Muslim Bumiputeras areas, 4% in Chinese areas and 6% in mixed areas.

“STAR Sabah performed slightly better, winning one parliamentary seat in Keningau and two state seats in Tambunan and Bingkor. Its marginal win was due to a multi-cornered contest, involving strong candidates from Warisan, BN and PH. But like the rest, it was defeated in other areas,” he said.

PKR and DAP managed to improve their electoral performance this time, winning eight and six seats respectively at the state and parliamentary levels.

“Given the electoral success of PKR and DAP, there is no reason why PPBM would not want to join the fray and compete, particularly in the Malay-Muslim Bumiputera constituencies,” he said.