THE Sabah elections has put Umno at a crossroads where it has to choose between two splinter parties, said professor Wong Chin Huat.
“Umno can now back either Parti Warisan Sabah or Bersatu to form the next Sabah government,” said the political scientist.
But between the two, Warisan is the safer option for Umno, said Wong, who specialises on parliamentary democracy.
Although, both Bersatu and Warisan originated from Umno, Mohd Shafie Apdal’s party is multiracial, while Bersatu is a Malay-based organisation.
“As it is, Bersatu’s candidate for Sabah chief minister, Hajiji Noor, is already a former Umno leader,” said Wong.
“If Umno concedes in Sabah, it would mean playing second fiddle to a splinter party that is smaller than them. As it is, Umno has already allowed the smaller Bersatu to have the prime minister’s seat in Putrajaya.”
At the federal level, Putrajaya is currently led by Bersatu, which only has 31 MPs to Umno’s 39.
The Perikatan Nasional government was formed in February after Barisan Nasional, PAS, GPS and several independents and smaller parties decided to back Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister.
Umno is currently in a tussle with Bersatu over the choice of CM in Sabah. While Umno has proposed its Sabah chief Bung Mokhtar Radin, Bersatu wants Hajiji.
The parties are currently holed up at the Sutera Harbour hotel in Kota Kinabalu to negotiate the impasse after the parties failed to come to an agreement over the CM issue last night.
Warisan has won the most number of seats at 29 followed by Perikatan Nasional (17), BN (14), PBS (7), Independents (3), PKR (2) and UPKO (1). All of BN’s seats were won by Umno.
Although Muhyiddin announced that BN and PN parties would contest as Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS), it has not been legally registered and tussles over seats saw both coalitions contesting separately.
GRS is supposedly made up of PN (Bersatu, STAR, PAS, SAPP), BN and PBS. BN, however, has not confirmed that it has agreed to this new political pact.
But PN appears to have outflanked BN on the selection of chief minister as PBS is also backing the pact, giving them 24 seats to BN’s 14.
BN does not have to back GRS if the latter insists on a Bersatu chief minister, an Umno source told The Malaysian Insight.
“Unlike BN, GRS is not a formal coalition and Umno does not need to support them if their requests are not met,” said the senior Umno leader.
“BN can choose to stay in the opposition in Sabah by not backing any party or CM candidate. It’s not the end of the road for BN,” said the source.
“Furthermore, BN can also back Warisan Sabah’s Mohd Shafie Apdal to be CM as long as it disassociates itself from DAP, PKR, Pejuang, UPKO and other Pakatan Harapan parties,” he added.
The Umno leader was commenting on the CM impasse in Sabah after the state elections were concluded last night.
He said that if the impasse is not resolved soon, Warisan Plus will have the right to go to the Istana to ask for Shafie to become CM again.
“Another solution is for BN to come to terms for a rotating CM system with PN.”
He said Umno has the option of forming a confidence and supply agreement on a fixed term like 12 or 24 months with Warisan Plus where Umno can stay in the opposition while getting active roles in policymaking and bringing about development through legislative reform and also equal allocation for opposition leaders.
“This saves both Umno and Warisan Plus parties the embarrassment of sleeping with enemies and fighting with each other.”
Wong said, post-election coalitions are part of a new normal in Malaysia post-2018, which requires professionation of politics.
A C&S agreement can ensure stability and functioning when a minority government is preferable to a disharmonious majority coalition, he said.
GRS to meet Sabah governor today, says Annuar Musa
In a follow-up tweet, Annuar said: “The cooperation between Umno, Bersatu and PAS will be continued to unite all races and religions.
It appears that GRS has resolved the Sabah chief minister impasse and has secured the support of three more assemblymen.
GRS won 38 seats yesterday, with Perikatan Nasional taking 17, Barisan Nasional, 14; and PBS seven.
Warisan Plus won 29 seats, Independents (3), PKR (2) and UPKO (1). All of BN’s seats were won by Umno.
There are 73 seats in the Sabah assembly.
Although, GRS had won the elections last night, the parties could not agree on who should be the next Sabah chief minister.
PN had wanted to nominate Bersatu Sabah chief Hajiji Noor while BN wanted Umno Sabah chief Bung Moktar Radin.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT