Analysts see bigger things in store for small Sabah party with Anifah as chief

Former foreign minister Anifah Aman.

KOTA KINABALU: Political analysts say a change of fortune may be on the way for a little-known local outfit in Sabah following its move to elect a former federal minister as its new president.

Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS), considered one of the smaller parties in Sabah and largely unknown at the national level, elected Anifah Aman as its leader on Sunday.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) senior lecturer Lee Kuok Tiung said PCS could now work with larger parties like Umno or Parti Bersatu Sabah as Anifah, with his political network, could open up doors for collaboration.

He told FMT that PCS might even gain access to Perikatan Nasional or link up with Pakatan Harapan if it so desired.

“It would be more significant compared to choosing to work with mosquito parties with limited grassroots support,” he added.

PCS, widely known as a Kadazandusun Murut party, was approved by the Registrar of Societies (RoS) in 2013.

It was previously led by former Sabah deputy chief minister Wilfred Bumburing who is now the party’s deputy president.

It was once part of the United Sabah Alliance, alongside STAR and SAPP, but left in 2017 due to disagreements with these parties.

Failing to strike up a partnership with any of the bigger opposition outfits in the 2018 general election, it eventually joined forces with Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri but lost all the seats it contested.

It now aims to undergo a rebranding process, including a change of name to Parti Kesedaran Rakyat Sabah pending approval from the RoS.

Tony Paridi Bagang of Sabah UiTM said Anifah, a former foreign minister, had his own supporters which would benefit PCS.

“Anifah leading a local party is a strategic move in order to capture and mobilise the sentiments of Sabahans,” he said.

“With this latest development, PCS will be seen as a re-emerging party that will offer new deals for voters in Sabah.”

Noting that the party’s line-up comprised prominent politicians with years of experience, he said their biggest challenge nonetheless would be proving that they remain influential and effective leaders.

Lee also said Anifah’s first challenge would be to portray himself as a leader for all.

“He’s better known as a Bumiputera Muslim leader,” he added.

But Romzi Ationg, also of UMS, said Anifah’s influence and charisma could win new support for PCS.

“He is among the key political figures, not only at the state level but also at the national level.

“But before they can usher in solid support for PCS, they need to ensure that the party is well known to Sabahans as a whole,” he said.

In March this year, Anifah was slated to lead a merger of four parties into Parti Gagasan Rakyat Bersatu Sabah (PGRS). However, it is understood that this is now on hold given the new development.

PGRS, originally led by Ationg Tituh, PKAN, Parti Hak Sabah and PCS, had agreed to the merger but PGRS and PKAN later backed out, choosing to pursue their own political agendas.