KOTA KINABALU, Sept 15 — Two and a half years ago, two Kadazandusun men from Kiulu faced the voters of the district in Tuaran and raised their hands, shouting misompuru in unison as they campaigned together and later won the district in a clean sweep under the Barisan Nasional (BN) banner.
Misompuru means united in their native language and was a platform for three local Kadazandusun and Murut parties (KDM) under the BN coalition then to move in unison as a pact.
The two men, Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau and Datuk Joniston Bangkuai were then running for the Tuaran parliamentary and Kiulu state seat respectively.
Fast forward to the present and United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) president Tangau and Bangkuai, who is now Parti Bersatu Sabah information chief, are now on opposing sides in politics.
In the next 12 days till polling on September 26, Tangau and Bangkuai will have to battle each other and fend off four others in the six-cornered area for Kiulu.
Their change of circumstance comes after Tangau left the BN coalition following the stalemate in the GE14 election results for Sabah; he moved to support Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal who was then in the Opposition for which he later became the state deputy chief minister.
His actions have been mocked and cursed by his former comrades in BN ever since.
Bangkuai, who is running for the seat a third time, said he was still hurt by the “betrayal” of his friend turned competitor.
“In the last general election, we had campaigned together under the Misompuru Bersatu tag line.
“In fact it was his suggestion that the three main KDM parties — Upko, PBS and PBRS — form an official pact as a united front to face the election,” he said.
But Bangkuai said he still considers Tangau a friend and has no qualms working with the MP for Tuaran in the spirit of developing Kiulu.
He said that having two elected representatives would augur well for Kiulu even if both had different political leanings.
“If the previous state government was willing to cooperate with the federal government even though on the opposite side, why can’t we do the same for Kiulu?
“I don’t hate him. He is still my friend, but he left us,” Bangkuai added.
Tangau, a first time candidate for a state seat, also referred to Bangkuai as a friend, and said their contest was nothing personal.
Over the past two years, Tangau has repeatedly explained why he chose to switch sides, attributing it to a desire from voters for a change in government.
When asked about contesting against Bangkuai, Tangau said: “He’s a friend. It’s not a problem. Politics is politics, it’s nothing personal.”
Tangau has been touring the state on the campaign premise that a vote for the Perikatan Nasional coalition or any of its allies is an invitation for the return of Umno as government.
“It’s simple; I am in a team for a local Sabah party. A vote for him is a vote for Umno, to bring back Umno as chief minister,” he said of Bangkuai.
Refusing to elaborate on the rivalry with Bangkuai, Tangau said that he would leave the people to decide whether they wanted a Sabah party, or one which was dictated by peninsular Malaysia’s politics.
The two will compete with four others — Parti Cinta Sabah’s Andau Yasun @Bruno, Liberal Democratic Party’s Dr Rozlyn @Rosalyn Gelunu and two independents — Dominic Yasun, who is believed to be aligned to Parti Solidarity Tanah Airku (STAR), and Jolianis Lampog.
The campaigning period in Sabah began last Saturday while polling is on September 26.
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