KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 — Sabah Umno chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin has dismissed claims of disunity in the party, saying that it still retained the support of all its leaders and members in Sabah.
In a Berita Harian report yesterday, he admitted that Sabah Umno is divided into a few groups, but for the purpose of performing specific duties and tasks on behalf of the party.
“Sabah Umno has a few groups, but it is not divided in terms of leadership. We have several think-tank groups that are drawing up a more effective strategy to win the hearts of the people in the upcoming state election,” he was quoted as saying in a statement.
Bung then went on to refute recent claims on social media that Sabah Umno was on the verge of disintegrating.
He accused those with a selfish political agenda of attempting to break up Sabah Umno by painting a negative picture after a few of the party’s state assemblymen were reportedly seen meeting Sabah Chief Minister and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) chairman Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor last weekend.
Bung added that although Sabah Umno had withdrawn its support from GRS in January this year, it was their right as elected leaders to meet with Hajiji.
“They are assemblymen who were chosen by the people, so it is not wrong for them to meet the chief minister to convey the issues faced by their constituents.
“If the chief minister respects the unity government, he should provide space to meet and listen to the concerns of the people, especially assemblymen from Sabah Umno who are currently like de facto Opposition assemblymen,” he said.
Bung’s remarks were in response to a photo apparently showing four Sabah Umno assemblymen — Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak (Usukan), Datuk Raime Unggi (appointed assemblyman), Datuk Yakub Khan (Karambunai) dan Mohd Tamin Zainal (Pantai Manis) — with Hajiji at a restaurant in Tuaran, Sabah.
Sabah Umno is a lynchpin party of Sabah Barisan Nasional, which withdrew its support for Hajiji’s state government on January 5 of this year.
This means that although part of the unity government on the federal level, of which GRS is also a part, Sabah Umno is divided over its support for GRS on the state level.
The situation has seen Bung and other Sabah Umno leaders staying out of the state government, and some Sabah Umno assemblymen exiting the party to join GRS parties.
Others have chosen to remain with Sabah Umno while supporting Hajiji.
This has left Sabah Umno with an estimated 10 assemblymen on its side from the initial 17 prior to the January 5 decision.