Political scenarios in Sabah
Sabah, together with Johor and Sarawak, was considered a ‘safe deposit’ state of UMNO Barisan Nasional up until the 2013 general election.
But this is no longer the case since the last election and more so now especially as the internal tussles in UMNO is spilling over to Sabah.
UMNO has just announced the postponement of its party election from late-2016 to mid-2018. Politically the move means that:
Firstly, Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak will cling on to the position of Prime Minister as long as he can.
UMNO leaders will have to go along with the fact that Najib will be Prime Minister well into the next general election or Najib would only be removed in a very drastic and dramatic manner such as a no-confidence vote in Parliament with a significant number of UMNO MPs crossing the floor.
Secondly, after delaying the party polls, Najib will likely embark on a cabinet reshuffle as those who would be dropped would not be able to challenge him in the party election, and they would be dropped as candidates for the general election anyway. Their political careers will be ended before they could fight back in the now postponed party polls.
Ministers to be excluded from the next cabinet are likely to be Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Sabahan Shafie Apdal.
Thirdly, elections could be much earlier than 2018. As long as Najib is sure of victory in the general elections he would by now prefer an earlier election to get rid of dissidents in UMNO and to get more loyalists to contest in the general election.
It is now clear to many that if Najib continues to lead UMNO into the next general election, UMNO is at risk of losing power altogether as the Najib brand is by now totally discredited in the various scandals. The longer Najib leads UMNO, the more likely it is that he would drag UMNO with him.
There is a huge political vacuum in Malaysian politics that Malaysians of all ethnic groups from all parts of the country are looking for new leadership.
Further, with UMNO clinging on to power, a split in UMNO is inevitable. The split will be felt keenly in Johor and Sabah with the potential sackings of Muhyiddin and Shafie from the Cabinet.
The DAP must present itself as the party of choice for all in the current state of flux and provide leadership for a nation desperate to move on.
In line with that, the DAP welcomes the joining of Andrew Ambrose, Asias Indigenous Youth Representative to the United Nations. Ambrose, popularly known as Atama Katama, is a well known Orang Asal rights activist and an accomplished musician. I am sure that his participation would further strengthen DAP’s presence in Sabah.
Also present at the DAP Sabah Leadership Retreat are National Organising Secretary Loke Siew Fook, Sabah Chairman Jimmy Wong Sze Phin, Deputy Chairman Stephen Wong Tien Fatt, DAP Party School Chief Chan Foong Hin, three other state assemblymen from the Peninsula, Chow Yu Hui (Bilut, Pahang), Wong May Ing (Pantai Remis, Perak) and Howard Lee (Pasir Pinji, Perak).
* Media statement by DAP National Political Education Director and MP for Kluang Liew Chin Tong on 28th June 2015 at the Opening of DAP Sabah Leadership Retreat, in Papar, Sabah