KOTA KINABALU: Many Sabahans appear uneasy over PPBM’s imminent entry to the state, with some against it and others hoping it will not be the making of another Umno.
Some say the political arena in Sabah is already crowded, and that PPBM’s foray will only cause further divisions. They say the leaders voted in by the people last May should be allowed to govern for now, and that the former Sabah Umno leaders are only interested in political survival.
Others, however, see the entry of the peninsula-based party as a necessary check and balance against Warisan, the dominant ruling party in the state.
“That’s the jigsaw puzzle that Sabah politics is,” said entrepreneur Azri Yusof, adding however that it was up to PPBM to prove its necessity in the state.
“Federal politics in Sabah is like bees and honey – you can’t have one without the other,” the 31-year-old said.
“PPBM is making a similar case here, backed by former Sabah Umno senior leaders.”
Five ex-Sabah Umno MPs and eight assemblymen who ditched the party in December are expected to join PPBM once it sets up shop in the state.
Student Audrey Disimond agreed on the need for checks and balances but questioned whether this would happen with “another Dr Mahathir Mohamad-related outfit” spreading its wings to Sabah.
“Ideally, the entry is good for Sabah politics,” the 25-year-old told FMT.
“But historically, no way, not with another Mahathir-led party.
“Sabah’s political climate is just stabilising. The presence of a new party will distract the leaders from focusing on political matters.”
Social activist Thonny Chee said the only advantage of PPBM’s entry to Sabah would be the direct relationship with the central government.
He added, however, that it was not fair to prevent the party from entering the state as other peninsula-based outfits like DAP, PKR, Umno and PAS had long been established in Sabah.
Political analyst Tony Paridi Bagang said there were grounds for the people’s concerns and that it would take time to determine if Warisan and PPBM could work as a team.
“There are concerns, especially by those who want Sabah to be governed by local-based parties.
“But if Warisan and PPBM can work together effectively, PPBM will be accepted,” the Sabah UiTM lecturer said.
Communications manager Zyee F Dullie is one of those who want local parties in charge of the state.
“We already have a few non-Sabah based political parties here,” she said to FMT. “How many more do we need?”
The 38-year-old added that race-based politics were “irrelevant” in Sabah, where the struggle was to regain the state’s rights and autonomy as an equal partner in the federation of Malaysia.
“PPBM’s entry will only be good if it helps support and fight for the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
“Otherwise, we should allow genuine and more credible Sabahan parties and leaders to fight for Sabah’s rights.”
Entrepreneur Oliver Galasius said Sabahans had voted for change in the last general election, and that its leaders should be given a chance to govern.
Executive accountant Larry Gunsanad, meanwhile, claimed PPBM’s foray into Sabah was only a means for the party to strengthen its position in Pakatan Harapan.
“For Sabah politics, it will only further divide us,” the 43-year-old said.
“At the moment, I don’t see any of the Sabahan leaders who pushed for PPBM’s entry in the same boat as the Warisan-led government, though they claim to be. And come GE15, seat allocations will be a headache.”
Businessman Farizal Tahir, 39, said PPBM’s entry was just an avenue for the former Sabah Umno leaders to cling to their political careers.
“It is just the platform for them to prolong their political lives. PPBM should honour its pre-election pact with Warisan and not come in,” he said.
Remysta J Taylor said Sabahans could only hope that the promises to protect the state’s rights are delivered.
“Since the entry of PPBM cannot be avoided, we hope the pledge to strengthen the ruling government in all aspects, including MA63, will be fulfilled and not just made to benefit certain politicians or political parties,” he said.
However, a PPBM supporter who declined to be named accused those who “might lose out” of trying to prevent the party from entering Sabah, or making it hard for former Umno members to join.
He claimed there had been demands for PPBM to set certain requirements for accepting the former Sabah Umno members, calling this a blatant attempt to limit the number of PPBM members in the state.
“I look forward to PPBM’s entry. Umno was Sabah’s direct link to the prime minister before; PPBM will now take over that role,” he said.