Question marks over fate of Sabah’s Warisan govt

Warisan chief Shafie Apdal was reported to have met PPBM chief Muhyiddin Yassin, leading to questions about the future of the Sabah coalition. (Bernama pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Question marks have been raised over the fate of the Warisan-led state government following the change in federal government, with an Umno leader predicting it would fall from internal bickering.

Some in Sabah PKR fear that Warisan, the dominant partner in the state coalition, would end its partnership with Pakatan Harapan at any time.

Warisan formed the state government after the 2018 general election, with support from the state Pakatan Harapan and Upko providing the coalition the majority in the state assembly.

However, the Pakatan Harapan federal government collapsed last week with the pullout of PPBM, which is forming a new government with its new partners Umno, PAS, PKR dissidents and others.

PKR leaders who spoke to FMT said they were concerned that Warisan president Mohd Shafie Apdal might feel that his party’s partnership with PH in Sabah was no longer beneficial.

Their concern arose based on reports that Shafie was seen trying to meet PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin during the week-long political stalemate over forming a new federal government.

Muhyiddin has now become the new prime minister.

“Although the meeting happened during the political crisis, Sabah PKR leaders are in the dark over why Shafie had turned up at Muhyiddin’s home,” a PKR leader said.

However, Warisan secretary-general Loretto Padua rejected rumours of a change in Sabah’s political landscape following federal political changes. He said they were just part of a ploy to undermine people’s trust in the state government.

Padua said Warisan’s assemblymen and MPs would remain faithful to the leadership of Shafie Apdal.

Sabah Umno Youth chief Abdul Aziz Julkarnain says it is a matter of time before the Warisan-led state government collapses.

He hoped that the new federal coalition would not accept Warisan into its fold, because Shafie had declared support for deposed prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and PH intended to push for a no-confidence vote against Muhyiddin.

It was better for Warisan and its allies to remain in the federal opposition to serve as a check and balance to the new administration, he said.

Abdul Aziz Julkarnain.

Aziz said there was talk that the other Sabah coalition partners would turn their backs on Warisan because of what they saw as unfair treatment because Warisan was monopolising political appointments.

Aziz said the coalition partners were unhappy because of appointments going to people from Shafie’s home constituency Semporna.

With Muhyiddin forming a new federal coalition, Sabah would become an opposition state to the new Putrajaya government, whereas Warisan and Upko could still stay in power if they abandoned PKR and DAP, the PKR source said.

Warisan has 33 state assemblymen, enough for it to continue as the state government.

The source said Warisan may feel it has no choice but to align with PPBM, which has several members in the state assembly, and to remain friendly with the federal governing coalition.

The new alignment in Putrajaya left Sabah PKR leader Christina Liew with little bargaining power, PKR sources said. Many PKR members were also preparing to become opposition members again.

PKR Youth secretary Razeef Rakimin told FMT recently that the party had been an opposition party for many years. “There would be nothing awkward to become opposition again,” he said.

PKR sources also expressed dissatisfaction with Warisan’s “absolute control in grassroots matters”.

Liew declined to comment about the change in federal position. “We just have to wait and see,” she said.