‘EVERY YB IN SABAH WANTS TO BE CHIEF MINISTER’ – HOW LONG WILL HAJIJI LAST? – WITH OR WITHOUT BERSATU OR PAKATAN, BETS ARE ON IT WON’T BE LONG BEFORE HE IS TOPPLED BY ‘FROGZILLA’-MINDED ALLIES

Sabah’s political jigsaw puzzle

THE political game to bring down the Sabah Chief Minister is like a jigsaw puzzle made up of numbers.

To crack it, you need to reduce the number of assemblymen supporting Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor to below 40. In the Sabah assembly, there are 79 lawmakers (73 elected and six nominated assemblymen).

The Chief Minister, also Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) chairman, is now a GRS direct member after quitting Sabah Bersatu.

Hajiji is in power as he has the numbers – Team Hajiji claims that 57 assemblymen support him.

In the Sabah alphabet soup of political parties, the breakdown of the parties supporting Hajiji is as follows:

GRS-Barisan Nasional coalition Sabah government

GRS coalition: 29 GRS-direct assemblymen (including 15 who recently quit Bersatu); Parti Bersatu Sabah (seven), Sabah Star (six) and SAPP (one).

Barisan: 14 from Umno

GRS-friendly parties: Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (three); Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah (one); Parti Bangsa Malaysia (one); PAS (one) and Independent (one).

The state Opposition comprises Warisan with 19 assemblymen as well as Pakatan Harapan with seven reps – DAP (four), PKR (two) and Upko (one).

If, say, Umno, Parti KDM and PAS were to withdraw support for Hajiji (57 – 14 – 3 – 1 = 39), the Sabah government would collapse.

There’s also a question mark on the loyalty of Umno or government-friendly parties for Hajiji.

“You can’t take their support for granted. This is Sabah. Anything can happen,” said a GRS politician.

The political calculation after Perikatan Nasional – with which Hajiji was aligned – failed to form the Federal Government was: Parti Warisan (19) + Umno (14) + Pakatan (seven) = 40 assemblymen.

That would have been enough to form the Sabah government. The rest – government-friendly parties which can become unfriendly or GRS coalition partners – would go where the power is.

To stop politicians with ambitions of being chief minister from ousting Hajiji, Pakatan pledged support to him. Every Yang Berhormat in Sabah, it seems, wants to be chief minister.

On Nov 25, all seven Pakatan assemblymen in Sabah agreed to back the chief minister until the state assembly term ends in 2025.

The inside story of Pakatan support for Hajiji is that they prefer him to be chief minister rather than Sabah Umno chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin or Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.

With Pakatan’s support, it looks like Hajiji’s status is as solid as Mount Kinabalu.

But then again, there is no anti-party hopping law in Sabah.

Political frogs can still hop around, continuing the tradition in Sabah where the state government falls when assemblymen jump. For example, the two-day-old Tan Sri Musa Aman Barisan government fell when some of its assemblymen shifted support to Shafie as chief minister.

Karma struck back two years later when some abandoned the Warisan Plus government, forcing Shafie to dissolve the state assembly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The migration of 15 Bersatu assemblymen to GRS (as direct members) and possibly to Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah is rocking the Sabah political boat.

Don’t rock the boat – it upsets the status quo.

ANN

.