Warisan ignored by KDM community over ethnic, migrant issues, says analyst

An analyst says the Kadazan Dusun Murut community seemed to want to punish Upko over its 2018 defection from BN.

PETALING JAYA: An analyst says Warisan Plus struggled to win votes from the Kadazan Dusun Murut (KDM) community over ethnic issues and the long-standing undocumented migrant problem in Sabah.

Tony Paridi Bagang of Sabah UiTM said Gabungan Rakyat Sabah’s (GRS) playing up of these issues proved to be effective to the point they got a convincing majority of votes from the community.

Bagang said the KDM community also seemed to want to punish Upko for quitting Barisan Nasional (BN) after the last general election (GE14).

“In GE14, the KDM vote went to BN, but when the BN-led government fell after Upko defected, I believe the community saw this as a betrayal,” he told FMT, adding that it was similar to when the Parti Bersatu Sabah administration fell to BN in 1994 because of defections.

In Saturday’s election, GRS won nearly all of the KDM-majority seats, including Tambunan, Liawan, Bingkor, Sook, Tulid, Nabawan, Matunggong, Tandek, Kiulu, Tamparuli and Bandau.

The KDM-majority seats which Warisan Plus won were mostly those contested by its top leaders, including the seats of Moyog, Melalap, Kadamaian, Limbahau and Inanam.

Bagang said the popularity of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin also played a role as the KDM community in rural areas who were affected by Covid-19 and the movement control order (MCO) benefitted from Putrajaya’s aid packages.

He said the prospect of a state government aligned to the federal government also helped. “This is linked to the politics of development played up during campaigning.”

He said if Warisan Plus wanted to win back support from the KDM, it would have to be a vocal opposition.

“We can see that identity politics among the KDM is growing stronger and because of that, Warisan Plus must prove themselves to the community, especially those in rural areas, by becoming a constructive, vocal and effective opposition.

“They also have to correct the KDM community’s perception of them and take a new approach (to the community).”