KOTA KINABALU, Dec 12 — The mass exodus of leaders from Sabah Umno started today.

Nine out 10 assemblymen, four out of five MPs and the bulk of the party’s state liaison committee announced their decision to leave today.

The only elected representatives staying are former chief minister and Sungai Sibuga assemblyman Tan Sri Musa Aman and Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Moktar Radin.


Some 21 out of 25 of its division chiefs are also leaving as well as two supreme council members Tan Sri Pandikar Amin and Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak and senators Datuk Ghani Yassin and Datuk John Ambrose.

The four division chiefs which chose to stay are from Kinabatangan, Sepanggar, Tenom and Kalabakan.

At the same time, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah deputy president Arthur Kurup also announced his departure from Barisan Nasional.


Former state liaison chairman Datuk Hajiji Noor said they disappointed by the lack of development and lack of clear political direction from the party’s central leadership.

“There are conflicting accounts of the way forward, depending on who you talk to at the leadership,” he said.

The four MPs are Kudat MP Abd Rahim Bakri, Beaufort MP Azizah Mohd Dun, Libaran MP Zakaria Mohd Edris and Beluran MP Ronald Kiandee are leaving.

“Sipitang MP Hafez Yamani Musa has also indicated his intention to leave,” said Hajiji.

However, it is yet to be known when or if Hafez will be taking his oath as MP as he has been missing and unreachable.

“You will have to ask him, we do not know where he is, but he can still quit Umno even if he is not the MP,” former Umno state secretary Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun told reporters when asked about Hafez’s status.

Hajiji said he is expecting more Sabah Umno members to depart, including state Wanita Umno chief Datuk Jainab Ahmad and all division chiefs in its wings.

“It is entirely up to them, at their own free will. But we expect more than half of the 500,000 members of Umno here to join us,” he said.

Hajiji said Umno’s relevance in Sabah has become untenable and the party members needed to chart a new political direction.

“We have also taken into account the 100,000 non-Muslim members of Umno in their analysis of political trends in this country. Any shift in the political direction of the party would surely jeopardise their support for Umno.

“We are leaving Umno with a heavy heart but with a clear conscience. We sincerely believe breaking free from the political baggage of the past is the correct decision to allow political renewal for the betterment of Sabah,” he said.

Masidi said departing members have informed Umno president Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi prior to today’s announcement when they raised their concern over the party’s lacklustre direction.

He added that they did not need to tell him of today’s development.

Beluran MP Datuk Ronald Kiandee also said that he last met Zahid on Monday and informed him of the decision.

Next move

Hajiji then pledging full support to the Pakatan Harapan government under Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and also to Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.

He said the elected representatives will stay independent for now, and continue to serve the state and country until a “new political vehicle” is known.

“We have yet to reach a decision on our next move. We will cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said, adding that the hoped that the group could remain intact and move as a whole.

Asked to verify rumours of their interest in bringing Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia to Sabah, he said that it remains speculation for now, and brushed off the presence of two PPBM leaders — supreme council member Mohd Rafiq Naizamohideen and its policy and strategy bureau chief Rais Hussin — at today’s event.

“It is up to their party leadership to decide whether to come here,” he said.

Hajiji said the group would consider all options in the future and have not discounted joining Parti Warisan Sabah.

“For now we will just be an independent group, who will speak our minds,” said Masidi.

Musa and Bung

The Umno quitters said that they were not aware of the stance of both Bung and Musa, claiming that they could not speak for them.

“I cannot answer for Musa, why not join. I cannot speak on his behalf but I informed him of this decision,” Hajiji said.

As for Bung, Masidi said that there was no indication from him whether he would join them.

They also said they had not spoken to Musa’s brother and former Umno leader Datuk Anifah Aman who left Umno a few months ago.