Sabah Umno says keen on forging new alliances for upcoming state polls

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KOTA KINABALU, May 17 — After appointing representatives from the state’s opposition to the controversial federal Madani Village Development Committees (JKDM), Sabah Umno indicated today that it may likely be forming a new alliance going into the upcoming state elections.

Its chief Datuk Bung Moktar Radin said that it was inevitable that parties needed to form alliances to form government in the current climate.

“It’s clear that no party can go at it alone right now. That’s the reality of it. So we need to work with other parties who can cooperate with us,” he said when speaking to reporters after presenting the appointment letters to representatives from Parti Warisan and Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (PKDM) here

“Based on recent trends, including in Sabah, there will never be one single party.... so we have to have a new idea,” he said.

Asked about the parties that were involved and the name of the alliance, Bung Moktar said it was too soon to know and they would have to wait.

Umno and BN were initially a part of the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) government after the 2020 state election but had in early 2023 attempted to overthrow the chief minister with the help of Warisan.

They have lost several Cabinet positions, as well as appointments into the state’s subsidiaries and local community posts since being a part of the opposition.

Earlier, Bung Moktar was asked about his move to appoint members of the state opposition to fill in the roles of the already controversial JKDM roles.

Bung Moktar justified the move by saying he was walking the talk of the unity government by opting for the roles to be fielded by those from PKDM and Warisan who were “sidelined” by the GRS government.

“These are the parties that were sidelined, not used by GRS,” he said.

The JKDM initiative is by the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, led by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and was criticised for its potential to undermine the existing Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK), which operates under the jurisdiction of the Sabah government.

Several parties have said it was an Umno tactic to spread and fortify its influence in the region.

Bung Moktar said that it was a misguided perception and that it did not overlap with the JKKK role.

“The JKKK deals with administration and security at the village level while JKDM is about coordinating socio-economic programmes, and entrepreneurship for people at the village level with the aim of reducing hardcore poverty in Sabah.

“Their main role is focusing on rural areas to give education and job opportunities in entrepreneurship — for example for mothers who can sew, cook, make certain products, the committees will manage this and forward it to the federal government where there is an allocation of RM100,000 for every kampung.

“This also happens in other states in Semenanjung, where they have both a state-level JKKK and at the federal level. It does not overlap,” he said.

Bung Moktar said that those who opposed the idea and called it a “divide and conquer” tactic were uninformed and shallow-minded.

“Umno and Pakatan Harapan with other parties are practising the concept of the unity government so we appoint parties which were marginalised from the state government to be in this JKDM,” he said.