Analyst questions Sabah reps’ decision to back Musa

Former Sabah chief minister Musa Aman with state assemblymen at his residence yesterday. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Musa Aman’s claim that he can now form a new Sabah government has prompted a political analyst to ask what has motivated a large group of assemblymen to throw their support behind the former chief minister.

Arnold Puyok of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, confessing that he was puzzled by the development, said there had to be “one big issue” triggering the move, which comes soon after pledges of allegiance to Chief Minister Shafie Apdal.

“People are asking, ‘What is this issue that has made them want to leave Warisan?’” he told FMT. “Is it politics or is it the economy?”

Musa, who was Sabah’s chief minister for 15 years, said yesterday that he had secured enough support from assemblymen from Warisan, PKR, PPBM and Umno to form a new government.

Puyok acknowledged that Musa, as a veteran of Sabah politics, could draw on the support of certain members of Warisan, but he said it was also important to note that the assemblymen’s move might have much to do with politics at the federal level.

He pointed out that Shafie is aligned with former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is at odds with the ruling coalition, Perikatan Nasional (PN).

“As Sabah political history has shown, if you are not on good terms with the federal government, it’s hard to move forward economically,” he said.

“The assemblymen know that they cannot go anywhere if Warisan is not supporting the federal government.”

Puyok warned the assemblymen they had to be ready to “face wrath of the electorate” for jumping from one party to another.

Among those with Musa at yesterday’s press conference were PKR’s Kenny Chua, DAP’s Ronnie Loh, Upko’s Abidin Madingkir and Warisan’s Osman Jamal, Hamisa Samat, Musbah Jamli, Bolkiah Ismail and Anita Baranting.

Musa said he would meet the governor of the state soon to hand over statutory declarations of support from the assemblymen.

He also said Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin and the political secretary to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had visited the governor to notify him that a new alliance in support of PN had attained a simple majority to form the state government.

The Sabah opposition now has 20 assemblymen and sources have said that 14 to 16 assemblymen from the ruling coalition would switch camps, giving Musa enough numbers to form a new state government. There are 65 seats in the state assembly.

Lee Kuok Tiung of Universiti Malaysia Sabah told FMT that due to the Sabah government’s “very high” dependence on its federal counterpart, it was inevitable that the assemblymen would now change camps to side with the Umno-backed Musa.

“I think Musa has the numbers,” he said.

Lee added that many Sabahans felt there was a lack of development in the state when Pakatan Harapan held federal power.