Full autonomy for Sabah Umno soon, assures Tok Mat

Umno acting president Mohamad Hasan (middle) speaks to reporters in Sandakan, accompanied by Sabah Umno chief Bung Moktar Radin (left) and Sabah opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan (right).

KOTA KINABALU: Umno acting president Mohamad Hasan yesterday reaffirmed the party’s commitment to granting full autonomy to Sabah Umno, paving the way for it to become a separate entity from that of the central party.

He said this was part of Umno’s agenda to strengthen and reform the party following last year’s general election.

“Sabah’s journey and demographics are quite different from those of the peninsula.

“It’s better to give autonomous power to Sabah Umno so that it can be managed by Sabah and be an affiliate to (central) Umno. One day, it will be an entity of its own,” he told reporters in Sandakan last night.

Mohamad said this was among the host of amendments to the party’s constitution planned for its general assembly in November.

“It will enable Sabah Umno to be an associate with the national party in the peninsula but, at the same time, be based in Sabah. So people can no longer say that Umno is a peninsula-based party,” he said.

The former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar was in Sandakan to campaign for PBS vice-president Linda Tsen, who will be contesting the parliamentary by-election there on Saturday.

Mohamad, who is Rantau assemblyman, had said in his speech earlier that the next general election would come within two years of the May 9 polls.

“I expect so, because the people are in difficulty and depressed. If the situation continues like this, they will demand a re-election,” he said when asked about his remark.

He claimed the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had not made any solid changes to public policies since taking power last year, adding that any changes were purely cosmetic.

“They only changed the names of policies by the previous Barisan Nasional government,” he said.

“Instead of delivering their election promises, the PH government was happy to sign international treaties like ICERD and the Rome Statute which were not in their manifesto.”

He was referring to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said in November the government would not sign. Last month, Mahathir cited royal pressure in cancelling Malaysia’s ratification of the Rome Statute.

Mohamad also dismissed comments by DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, who said a PBS win in Sandakan would mean a win for Umno and PAS as well.

“What’s wrong if we work with PAS? They worked with PAS last time but we didn’t say anything,” he said, referring to the Pakatan Rakyat alliance in which DAP and PAS had worked together alongside PKR.

He added that Umno was in Sandakan to help PBS as part of an understanding to assist a fellow opposition party.

“Who knows, if there is another by-election in Sabah and Umno is contesting, we hope that PBS, STAR and other opposition parties would back us,” he said.