JOHOR BARU, Feb 5 ― The Tanjung Piai Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia division is said to be on the brink of collapse following the mass resignation of several key members who are expected to join Parti Warisan Sabah, according to sources.
It was learnt that the exodus, planned a week ago following the resignation of two other Bersatu state leaders, included the division’s deputy chief, secretary, committee members and also ordinary members.
A former Tanjung Piai Bersatu source, who had recently left the party, confirmed that more than 100 of the division’s leaders and members will quit, citing a loss of confidence in the party‘s leadership as well as lack of direction.
He said some have already left, while others will soon quit the party, pending an official announcement scheduled to be held in Pekan Nenas tomorrow.
“Many of the division’s members have been disgruntled with the party’s leadership’s decisions.
“The move will definitely affect the division’s election machinery for the coming Johor state election that is expected to be held in early March,” said the source to Malay Mail on condition of anonymity.
The same source also did not dismiss the possibility that the defections are a signal that Warisan is prepared to contest the coming state elections.
He said a majority of those from the Tanjung Piai Bersatu division, who will quit to join Warisan, are seasoned campaigners that recently saw action in the Tanjung Piai by-election in 2019 and also in a supporting role for the recent Melaka state election late last year.
“In the event Warisan joins the Johor state election, it is likely that the party may contest both the Pekan Nenas or Kukup state seats under the Tanjung Piai federal constituency to test waters as a prelude to the general election.
“However, it is still too early to determine this and it will be up to Warisan’s top leadership to make the call,” said the source.
Checks revealed that the Bersatu division has been plagued with issues starting from its failure under the then Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition to defend the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election in 2019.
Following Bersatu’s exit from PH after the so-called Sheraton Move, the division is said to have other unresolved issues with the party’s state and central leadership.
Another former Tanjung Piai source, privy with the mass resignations, said several Umno members will also be accompanying the Bersatu members in joining Warisan.
He revealed that days prior to the planned exodus, Warisan’s top leadership in Sabah have given their approval to welcome the “new” members from Johor.
“The defection is headed by a known Johor politician who has direct links to Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
“The defections will also fast-track Warisan’s foray into Peninsular Malaysia, especially Johor, after the party officially became national last December,” said the source, who is also tipped to join Warisan.
The same source explained that the defections to Warisan was also in-line with the country’s current political climate that needed a united platform to break away from racial polarisation.
“Many of us are attracted to join Warisan as it is a fairly new political platform that aims to be an inclusive party regardless of race or religion.
“All will be made known tomorrow as we expect Warisan’s vice-presidents Datuk Jaujan Sambakong and Datuk Junz Wong to attend a ceremony welcoming the new members,” said the source.
Warisan kicked off its membership drive in Johor on January 13 where the party welcomed former Gerakan women’s vice chief Wong Siew Poh, who was also previously the party’s state leader and former Skudai assemblyman, into Warisan.
The Tanjung Piai Bersatu defections have yet to be made official and are not part of Warisan’s Johor membership drive. However, it is expected to be the biggest mass resignation involving the Perikatan Nasional (PN) lynchpin as they gear-up towards the coming Johor polls.
This latest development follows the recent resignations of two Bersatu leaders, citing a loss of confidence in Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s leadership.
On January 27, former Johor Bersatu chief and incumbent Puteri Wangsa assemblyman Mazlan Bujang resigned from the party. This was followed two days later by former exco member and incumbent Larkin assemblyman Mohd Izhar Ahmad who also announced quitting Bersatu.
Both were reported to have said there were no immediate plans to join any political parties, but will back the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition for the state elections.
Umno and Bersatu, together with their BN and PN coalitions, are nominally allied in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s federal administration but are openly hostile towards each other in virtually all other settings.
The two supposed allies are expected to clash heavily in the state election for Johor, the birthplace of Umno but also where the Malay nationalist party lost significant ground in the 2018 general election.