PN launch could rally Sabah opposition ahead of polls, says analyst

PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin (centre) with Umno, PAS and other party leaders before they formed a new government as Perikatan Nasional.

KOTA KINABALU: An analyst sees Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s expected presence in Sabah to launch the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition this weekend as the key to uniting the opposition ahead of the state election next month.

Lee Kuok Tiung of Universiti Malaysia Sabah said PN’s launch in Sabah would also strengthen the image of Muhyiddin’s party PPBM in the run-up to the polls.

Speaking to FMT, he said the main question surrounding the opposition had been whether it would be able to present a united front in time for the election on Sept 26.

“I believe it (PN launch) is meant to unite the opposition in Sabah to work as a stronger team to face the state election,” he said.

Lee Kuok Tiung

Singapore’s Straits Times (ST) reported earlier this week that Muhyiddin would be going to Sabah to officially launch PN.

While the majority of opposition parties are aligned with PN, the question remains of whether they can come to an understanding on seats and a common logo for the polls.

Besides PPBM, PN in Sabah comprises Barisan Nasional (Umno, Sabah MCA and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah) and PAS, while Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) are allies.

Umno, PAS and PPBM are also part of Muafakat Nasional (MN), while the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) led by former chief minister Yong Teck Lee is said to be under consideration for membership as well.

The ST quoted a PPBM leader who said PN would consist of up to six component parties and would use its own logo in the election.

However, the leader said it was up to Umno whether it wanted to follow suit and use the PN logo as well. BN recently said it would contest using its familiar “dacing” symbol.

PBS has also said that it will use its “handshake” logo for the first time in 16 years.

Sabah Umno chief Bung Moktar Radin told FMT he had been invited to attend the launch but had no details on the itinerary.

He also said BN would proceed with the use of its own symbol for the election.

“It’s only that we haven’t decided with other partner parties about the use of a common logo or our own respective logos.

“Even on the PN logo, there is no decision yet. All will be clearer at the end of the month,” Bung, who is leading the BN election machinery in Sabah, added.

Yong, who confirmed that SAPP had been invited to the launch as well, said it would be a new political beginning in Sabah.

“A fresh start for Sabah. Not BN and not the self-destructive Pakatan Harapan.

“People will give Muhyiddin a chance to set things right,” he said.

When asked if Muhyiddin’s launch of PN in Sabah would be a rallying point for opposition parties in their goal to defeat the Warisan Plus coalition, he said: “We shall see after Saturday.”

Lee, however, said multi-cornered fights would be inevitable.

“This is almost unavoidable, but the two strongest sides will still be BN-MN-PN Plus versus the Warisan Plus coalition of Warisan, Upko, DAP and PKR,” he said.

He said outfits like Parti Cinta Sabah, the Liberal Democratic Party and Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah meanwhile could present a strong third force if they formed an alliance.