Sabah state assembly opens with ‘downsized’ opposition

Assemblymen Hajiji Noor and Masidi Manjun, who crossed over to PPBM, on the government’s side in the Sabah state assembly.

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah state legislative assembly begins its sitting today, its first this year and since the migration of Umno members to the newly launched Sabah PPBM.

The opposition bench now consists of only five assemblymen from Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and three from Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR), apart from the sole Umno assemblyman, former chief minister Musa Aman.

Sulaman assemblyman Hajiji Noor and his group joined PPBM last Saturday, more than three months after announcing their exit from Umno.

The government’s side meanwhile expanded to 55 including four nominated assemblymen.

“We are not here to fight or to take over power but we want to realise the aspirations of the people. We don’t want to be left behind and we hope to be the bridge connecting our people with the government,” said Klias assemblyman Isnin Aliasnih, one of nine assemblymen who switched sides to PPBM.

He said PPBM assemblymen will support the government’s policies but will not hesitate to speak out when needed.

Meanwhile, Sabah Speaker Syed Abbas Syed Ali said although PPBM is not part of the Sabah government, they are friendly to the Warisan-led ruling coalition, and this has been reflected in the seating arrangement.

“They don’t have any position in the state government for now. But they are friendly and not part of the opposition bloc. It is not an issue,” he said.

Syed Abbas also said Musa’s absence from the state assembly is not an issue, adding that the former chief minister only has to attend at least one sitting in order to keep his seat.