Sabah musical chairs begin as Upko quits BN while STAR hops over

Tangau at the press conference announcing the party’s departure from BN. — Picture by Julia Chan
Tangau at the press conference announcing the party’s departure from BN. — Picture by Julia Chan

KOTA KINABALU, May 10 — The United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut organisation (Upko) announced its exit from Barisan Nasional here today, but its five elected representatives were coy on the decision.

Upko president Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau said the party's supreme council unanimously agreed to leave the defeated BN to form a coalition government with Parti Warisan Sabah and Pakatan Harapan’s PKR and DAP.

"We had a meeting earlier today and this is our decision. When Upko was formed in 1994, our intention was to fight for the rights of the KDM people and we believe by forming a coalition government with Warisan, we will be able to have a continuity for our struggle," he said.

However, the five assemblymen led by Kadamaian representative Ewon Benedict insisted they were not joining Warisan.

At the same time, state BN chairman Tan Sri Musa Aman claimed that Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan’s STAR will enter BN to purportedly give the coalition the 31 seats needed to form the state government by a simple majority.

All eyes are now on two other Sabah KDM-based parties, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS), to see if they will stay with BN and possibly become the state opposition or switch to Warisan in the hopes of jointly forming the government.

PBS is scheduled to hold a supreme council meeting tonight.

In the event all five Upko seats are added to the Warisan-PH alliance, they will have 34 out of the state’s 60 assembly seats, effectively rendering BN the opposition.

Upko won the state seats of Paginatan, Kuala Penyu, Nabawan, Kadamaian and Kuamut as well as the Tuaran parliamentary seat, but lost the Moyog state seat.  

Tangau arrived at Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal’s residence at 11.30am today with the party’s top leaders and proceeded to a closed door meeting.

Earlier, a police roadblock barred Shafie as he tried to seek an audience with the Governor.