KOTA KINABALU: The opposition’s plan to merge their parties to form a larger party has been dropped, said Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku leader Jeffrey Kitingan today.
He said a discussion held by opposition leaders yesterday decided that established parties would form a coalition while the smaller parties would be merged to form a new party.
Jeffrey said just like Parti Bersatu Sabah president Maximus Ongkili, he was not to keen to dissolve his Sabah Star to realise the “single and big” party goal.
Ongkili had said his party could not be dissolved as it is more than 30 years old and closely linked to the history of Sabah.
Jeffrey said that Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) leader Yong Teck Lee was also opposed to the idea.
“The merging of the parties was one of the earlier suggestions but that was changed at the followup meeting held yesterday.
“We have decided that the inactive parties should be merged. The established ones can be part of the coalition.
“The plan is for all the opposition leaders and parties to be able to work towards having straight fights in the 15th general election,” he told FMT when met at the Sabah MCA Chinese New Year do here today.
The “inactive” parties would be Parti Cinta Sabah, Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah and Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri.
The established parties that Jeffrey referred to could be PBS, PBRS and his party, Sabah Star.
Last night, PBS said it was not involved in the “single party” idea, which was discussed at the first meeting of opposition leaders, chaired by former Kimanis MP Anifah Aman, on Feb 10.
The opposition leaders involved in the alliance talks were Jeffrey, Yong (SAPP), Wilfred Bumburing (Parti Cinta Sabah), Francis Goh (Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah Adviser) and Henrynus Amin (Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri president).
Others present included Sabah Star Bingkor assemblyman Robert Tawik, former Upko leader Marcus Mojigoh, Nabawan assemblyman Ellron Angin, former Petagas representative James Ligunjang and Sabah MCA leader Dr Pamela Yong. Upko Supreme Council member Ewon Ebin was also there at the meeting.
The meeting called “Perpaduan Rakyat” had been considered one of the largest gatherings held by the heads of Sabah political parties since the mass exodus of Sabah Umno leaders in December 2018.
Jeffrey said the proposed coalition would be called Gabungan Sabah (GS), adding it was the name that is in the process of being registered with the Registrar of Societies.
Jeffrey also hoped that PBS would change its mind and support the formation of GS.
Sabah opposition parties had been in disarray after the 2018 general election, which resulted in Barisan Nasional, the former ruling coalition, being almost totally eliminated.
Parties like Upko, PBS, PBRS and LDP had ditched BN one by one after GE14, while Sabah MIC was dissolved. This left only Sabah Umno and MCA as components in Sabah BN.
It was around this time that PBS, Sabah Star and Sabah Umno tried to form an alliance. also called Gabungan Sabah, to replace BN in Sabah, on condition Umno ceased to exist in the state.
This resulted in the mass exodus of Sabah Umno leaders on Dec 18.
They subsequently established the Sabah chapter of PPBM in April 2019.
Sabah PPBM is now aligned with the ruling Sabah parties, namely, Warisan, Sabah PKR, Sabah DAP and Upko.
The departure of the Sabah Umno leaders in the opposition fold had resulted in Sabah Star and PBS being forced to shelve the formation of GS.