Warisan rep Ben Chong denies talk he’s switching sides

Chief Minister Shafie Apdal (seated, centre) with Sabah MPs and assemblymen in Kota Kinabalu on March 5. There is speculation that PN is wooing assemblymen over to its side.

KOTA KINABALU: An assemblyman who is a Warisan Supreme Council member has denied he is one of 18 assembly members speculated to change sides to Perikatan Nasional and end the Warisan-led state government.

Tanjung Kapor assemblyman Ben Chong says he remained loyal to Warisan and supported party president Shafie Apdal, who is chief minister.

“There’s no such thing as any state assemblymen from the ruling bloc crossing over. Such talk is just part of the dirty tactics used by the opposition which is spreading lies during Ramadan,” said Chong, who is state assistant trade and industry minister.

He criticised Sabah Umno Youth chief Abdul Aziz Julkarnain for claiming that the absence of 24 assemblymen at a recent show of support for Shafie was a sign of their resentment.

Ben Chong

Chong said large gatherings are against the restrictions on gatherings meant to curb the spread of Covid-19. No more than 20 people are allowed to attend gatherings in Sabah.

Only 19 of the 48 state assemblymen, including appointed members, had turned up for a press conference recently by members of Warisan, Upko, Sabah PKR and DAP.

Another reason for their absence was that they were busy at work extending aid to the needy and not planning a coup as alleged, he said.

He also hit out at Sabah Umno chief Bung Mokhtar Radin who had advised the ruling parties not to be certain that no one would abandon them. Sabah had a history of politicians switching sides, causing the collapse of previous governments, such as the fall of the PBS government to Umno in 1994.

Chong said the Warisan-led state government’s position remained solid with 48 assemblymen. It would be a tough task for the opposition to take power.

Talk of defections arose recently after the collapse of three state governments run by Pakatan Harapan and the appointment of new governments led by Perikatan Nasional, which holds federal power but is in the opposition in Sabah. Its members here comprise PBS, Sabah Umno and PPBM.

Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.