Malaysia: Bersatu makes inroads into Sabah despite vow to keep out

  • Bersatu has repeatedly said it will not set up a Sabah chapter as per the promise made with the Mohd Shafie Apdal-led Warisan, as well as due to fears of a repeat of the political scenario in the 1990s, when Umno entered Sabah.
  • However, Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah (Harapan) president Lajim Ukin is claiming responsibility for the recruitment drive and mass distribution of Bersatu membership application forms in Jan 19.
  • The recruitment drive is to show Dr Mahathir that Bersatu has enough support in Sabah and should set up shop in the state, he said.
  • Lajim was coy about the future of his party but the move to bring Bersatu into Sabah is viewed by many as an attempt to salvage his political career.
  • He is in limbo since Harapan abandoned the old United Sabah Alliance.
  • formed before the 14th general election, following a stalemate with partner Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku, led by Jeffrey Kitingan.
  • At a meeting after the elections on 9 May 18, Harapan fell by the wayside after Lajim was unable to secure a supreme council post in the then proposed Gabungan Bersatu Sabah, a new coalition aimed at replacing Barisan Nasional in the state, following his party’s failure to win any seat.
  • Meanwhile, former Sabah Umno members, led by Hajiji Mohd Noor, who left the party on 12 Dec 18 are expected to make their next move known either by Feb or Mar 19.
  • Some former Umno members are keen to join Bersatu, said sources. They told The Malaysian Insight that Lajim, Hajiji and several former Umno politicians have been meeting to discuss cooperation.
  • At this point, it is not clear whether it will be Harapan as the new outfit, but if Bersatu does indeed enter Sabah, Hajiji will be the chief and Lajim will get a special post in the council.

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