KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13 — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) will consider setting up shop in Sabah after discussions with Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) ally, Parti Warisan Sabah, that governs the state, a PPBM leader said today.
PPBM strategist Rais Hussin said PPBM chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will meet Warisan leader and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, possibly as soon as tomorrow.
“Bersatu looks to be present everywhere, to serve people everywhere. We started with reform, justice, progressiveness, moderation and inclusiveness, which remain the anchor to our existence.
“If these five principles can be better achieved by being in Sabah, why not?” Rais told Malay Mail.
Rais tweeted yesterday a picture of himself having lunch with Karanaan assemblyman Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun and former Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak after Sabah Umno was routed, as nine out 10 assemblymen, four out of five MPs, and the bulk of the party’s state liaison committee announced their decision to leave the Opposition party.
Warisan is a Muslim-majority Sabahan party that is not formally part of PH, while PPBM is a Malay-only national party.
Politicians who left Sabah Umno are hoping and planning for the entry of PPBM into Sabah, believing that aligning themselves with a federal force will give them more influence.
“We left Umno because of changing environments — Umno and PAS getting closer — this is not a good indication for us in Sabah, who has some 20 per cent non Muslim members. We cannot have an Islamist-aligned party,” a former Sabah Umno state leader told Malay Mail.
The leader claimed that Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s promise of autonomy for the state party chapter did not come through, which caused plenty of frustration.
“PPBM and Mahathir has put on a good show. They’re a good option for us, to help get funds. The plan is to join up with a federal force. A local/ state party alone cannot do it — look at our oil royalty, and the ‘autonomy’ they are supposedly giving back to us.
“If we join a federal party, we can better fight for this,” said the former Sabah Umno state leader.
The person claimed that Rais and PPBM supreme council member Mohd Rafiq Naizamohideen came to Kota Kinabalu yesterday to “watch and see how receptive people are”.
“But they cannot announce they are coming in, but that is the plan. We need to be closer to them first. Whatever they are negotiating at federal level, we want to chart our own direction.”