Sabah opposition make plans for new alliance

Former federal minister Anifah Aman (centre) with Sabah opposition party leaders after the meeting today.

KOTA KINABALU: Several top Sabah opposition leaders met in Penampang today in what appears to be a new bid by the opposition to form an alliance, and are believed to have agreed to merge into a new party.

The two-hour meeting, under the banner “Perpaduan Rakyat”, was believed to have been chaired by Anifah Aman, a former federal minister and MP for Kimanis.

Only Parti Bersatu Sabah was absent at today’s discussions.

After the 2018 general election, an attempt was made to form an opposition alliance called Gabungan Sabah but the plans were shelved.

FMT was made to understand that today’s meeting at the Kinsabina Sdn Bhd building in Penampang, was the second involving state opposition leaders and was aimed to explore possibilities to form a cooperation between them.

Those present today were Jeffrey Kitingan, president of Parti Solidariti Tanah AIrku (Sabah Star); Yong Teck Lee, the Sabah Progressive Party president; Wilfred Bumburing, who heads Parti Cinta Sabah; Henrynus Amin, president of Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri; Francis Goh, adviser to Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah, and Pamela Yong, head of Sabah MCA Wanita.

Others present were Bingkor rep Robert Tawik of Sabah Star;  former Upko leader Marcus Mojigoh; Upko supreme council member Ewon Ebin; Nabawan rep Ellron Angin; former Putatan MP James Ligunjang and other senior Sabah politicians.

Former Putatan MP James Ligunjang was among those at the meeting.

Ligunjang told FMT when met after the meeting that today’s discussions were about achieving a resolution for all their parties to be merged into one party with a name to be decided later.

“The idea here is to merge all the parties together to form one party. Everyone has agreed to the proposal,” said Ligunjang.

However, he would neither confirm nor deny that the discussions among them would lead to all the opposition leaders dissolving their own parties in order to form the new party.

“But it is still too early to determine how the new party can be realised,” he said.

Anifah also did not deny that the various parties must be dissolved first in order to make the plan a reality.

Although PBS was not represented at the meeting, Sabah Star chief Jeffrey Kitingan confirmed that the party had been invited, however its representative was unable to attend because of health reasons.

The Sabah opposition parties have been in disarray after the 2018 general election, which resulted in Barisan Nasional, the former ruling coalition, being almost totally eliminated.

Parties Upko, PBS, PBRS and Liberal Democratic Party have ditched BN one by one, while Sabah MIC was dissolved, leaving only Sabah MCA and Umno in Sabah BN.

PBS, Sabah Star and Umno had made an effort then to form the Gabungan Sabah coalition to replace BN, on the condition that Umno must be dissolved in Sabah.

However there was a mass exodus of Sabah Umno leaders to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), and they subsequently set up the Sabah chapter of the party.

Sabah PPBM is aligned to the state’s ruling parties namely Warisan, Sabah DAP, Sabah PKR and Upko.

Anifah was asked about his role in the new alliance, not being a member of any party. He said it was too early to comment as there are also other leaders who would be joining the new party and who were also party-less.

Anifah is in the midst of setting up his own party.