Four Sabah parties merge, with Anifah as leader

Former foreign minister Anifah Aman (third left) and the leaders of the Sabah parties who will merge their parties into Gagasan Rakyat Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Three Sabah parties have agreed to merge with Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah, with former federal minister Anifah Aman as president, forming a new force to challenge the ruling Warisan party.

The enlarged party is to be renamed later, with a new name chosen by the four party leaders.

The parties involved in the merger are:

  • Parti Cinta Sabah, headed by Wilfred Bumburing;
  • Parti Anak Negeri Sabah led by Henrynus Amin;
  • Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah led by Dr Ahtiong Tituh;
  • Parti Hak Sabah, which is yet to be registered, led by former Petagas rep James Ligunjang.

Former Upko leaders Ewon Ebin and Marcus Mojigoh and their supporters would also join the new party.

It could not be ascertained whether Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Sabah Star), led by Jeffrey Kitingan, and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) would join the new grouping.

SAPP, led by former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee, has previously said it was against dissolution of the party but would support Gagasan.

Leaders of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), the former ruling party in Sabah, previously said they would retain their 35-year-old party.

Anifah Aman receiving a memento from Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah leader Dr Ahtiung Titu.

Talks on the merger have been held for months culminating in the signing of an agreement today for three participating parties to be dissolved and merged under Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah.

The party leaders agreed on Anifah as party president.

Anifah said Gagasan would welcome Sabah Star as a member, but on their terms.

“I also think Sabah Star leaders are still consulting their people because they have to dissolve the party to be able to merge. You cannot do that without the approval of your supreme council members,” he told reporters today.

Other parties were welcome as long as they were willing to be dissolved, Anifah said. There are 11 other parties in Sabah.

Anifah said the merger was to end the political bickering that takes place in a coalition of parties. He said coalitions had been known to cause discord and disunity, especially during electoral seat negotiations.

Anifah said the merger was likely to be completed by April.

Gagasan’s core struggles will be to seek solutions on the dispute over the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and to solve the illegal immigrant issue.