MOVING.....Speculations are rife that Upko Deputy President Wilfred Bumburing and Umno 'Warlord' Lajim Ukin are moving to PKR this month.
By : JOE FERNANDEZ
UNITED PASOKMOMOGUN KadazanDusunMurut (Upko) Deputy President, Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing and his comrade in arms, Umno veteran Lajim Ukin, may soon discover that their extended run of luck in the wake of the 1994 fall of the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) government has come to an end in conjunction with the 13th general election.
Both leaders were once high up in the PBS chain of command. The rumour mills in Kota Kinabalu have been churning for quite some time now on these two men.
The local media is awash with the quit talk every few days with denials and counter-denials, accusations and counter-accusations. Everyone in town seems to know what’s exactly going on – “there being no secrets in Sabah” – but nothing has as yet been confirmed, either way, by way of official announcements.
The latest buzz in the political grapevine is that the duo will definitely sign up with the Peninsular Malaysia-based PKR.
Bumburing, who is also the Tuaran MP, is expected to sign up on May 9 while it is said that Beaufort MP Lajim will follow suit on May 25.
Bumburing’s excuse for leaving will be the failure of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to materialise.
Lajim may mumble something about Umno having lost its way in Sabah.
No one seems to have any idea if there’s any significance attached to May 9. The other date, May 25, reportedly stems from Lajim’s belief that Parliament will be dissolved on that date and polling will be on June 22.
However, what’s also being whispered by those who claim to be in the know is that the departure of these two men from their respective parties may be further delayed if the 13th general election is not held as anticipated in the immediate future.
Best to let ‘term’ expire
If so, they may be in for a quite a long wait as Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has given no indications at all as yet that the national polls will be held before the Budget in September/October this year.
If there’s any call for the polls to take place shortly after the Budget session, it makes little sense, just as it makes even less sense to hold the polls just before the Budget this year.
It would be more prudent, if the government goes for the budget session, to let the five-year term of Parliament expire automatically, that is, without a dissolution.
In that case, the 13th general election should be held by law within six months. The elections only need be held within two months in the event Parliament is dissolved, that is, before its term ends.
No matter when the election is held, it’s unlikely that either Upko or Umno is in any mood to humour the duo.
The unofficial word is that both men have been in politics a very long time and should make way for younger leaders without being nudged, or even worse, dropped unceremoniously.
As a sign of the times, the local media reported last week that parliamentary allocations only for Beaufort, which Lajim represents, have been unduly delayed.
Lajim’s name, it’s whispered, may not be on the list of candidates prepared this time by Sabah Umno for submission to Najib as Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman and Umno president.
The party appears to be waiting for Lajim to announce that he’s making way this time for a younger man. Instead, he has since issued a statement in Beaufort that “we don’t want history to repeat itself” and called for the wishes of the people on the candidacy to be respected.
Bumburing appears to have been “dropped” in favour of Wilfred Madius Tangau in line with the former’s pledge in 2008 that this would be his last term.
Anwar pins hope on Bumburing
Now that it’s time to make good on his promise, he has more than hinted in private that he would quit the party if he’s not fielded again.
The party, it’s learnt, has virtually told him to go by remaining silent in the face of the veiled threats. They had expected him to announce that he does not want to be fielded again.
Sabah State Reform Party (STAR) has publicly invited Bumburing to join it despite much misgivings within the 160,000-strong party headed by Jeffrey Kitingan, especially among the powerful young Turks, on the wisdom of such a move.
The invite followed Bumburing’s decision late last year to pull out from defending his position as Tuaran division Upko head. He had received very few nominations for the post compared with an avalanche of support for Madius who decided to challenge him. Madius won unopposed.
Bumburing must have seen the writing on the wall like another ex-Upko leader, Kalakau Untol, who has reportedly prevailed upon the former to opt for PKR over STAR.
Kalakau, it’s learnt, has taken Bumburing to see de facto PKR Chief Anwar Ibrahim in Kuala Lumpur to make him swear allegiance to his new party and political master.
Anwar hopes that Bumburing, along with Kalakau, will help reverse the mass exodus of Dusuns from the party in the wake of the sudden resignation of Jeffrey as vice-president and member on Jan 2 last year.
It’s unlikely that Bumburing will be of any greater use to PKR than Kalakau, his senior from the Tuaran region, has been so far.
The latter, along with Kasitah Gaddam, were the two Dusun leaders whom Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister actively promoted for many years, albiet unsuccessfully, to counter the influence of the two Kitingan brothers – PBS chief and huguan siou (paramount chief) Joseph Pairin and Jeffrey.
Jeffrey and Pairin have 14 other siblings, all from the same mother who passed away recently at a ripe old age at their ancestral home in Tambunan in the high country.
No respect for ‘parti-parti Malaya’
It would also be difficult for a local leader to justify his or her presence in a “parti Malaya” given the on-going campaign against such parties for not incorporating themselves locally and engaging in the struggle for Sabah and Sarawak.
Members of the “parti parti Malaya” are being routinely accused of being “traitors”, willing to be “proxies and stooges” of the politicians in Malaya in return for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver, to continue “to enslave the people of Sabah and Sarawak under internal colonidation policies”.
Lajim, a Dusun Muslim from the Bisaya tribe along the Sabah west coast, may be more useful to PKR than Bumburing. He’s Janang Gayuh (a sort of huguan siou) of the Bisayas and still wields considerable influence among the older generation who like other Dusun have a tribal mindset.
However, it remains to be seen whether he can still retain the seat as a PKR candidate, especially if the STAR carries out its Plan Z (last resort) to contest all 60 state seats in Sabah and 26 parliamentary seats including Labuan.
It’s learnt that Lajim has reached out to STAR leaders but has not been able to reach Jeffrey who has taken the position that it serves little purpose to discuss anything with the former unless he officially quits Umno.
Matters have not been made any easier by Lajim’s latest statement reported in the local media.
On the one hand, he called for soul-searching among Umno leaders on the original struggle of the party. On the other, he expressed confidence that BN would be able to regain its two-thirds majority in Parliament.
PKR is a sort of second option for Lajim after his earlier plan to head the Sabah People’s Front (SPF) fell through. The talk is that Lajim had even readied a new headquarters for the party, pumped in quite a bit of money and attended an AGM to finalise a new line-up.
The SPF leaders, subsequently, were seen in Kuching with other interested parties. The latest news is that SPF has since changed its name to Sarawak Workers’ Party (SWP).
Both Bumburing and Lajim defected from the PBS a month after the state polls in early 1994 gave it an unprecedented fourth term in power.
Lajim was among the first three defectors in 1994 who reduced the razor-thin two-seat majority of PBS and placed it in the minority in the State Legislative Assembly. Pairin had no choice but to resign.
Bumburing left with PBS Deputy President Bernard Giluk Dompok and a good number of the party’s legislators to form the breakaway Parti Demokratik Sabah (PDS).
PDS, finding the name a drag, changed it to Upko, which is the name of a party headed by the late Mohd Fuad Donald Stephens and subsequently deregistered.
Dompok’s Upko, without batting an eye, claims that it’s a continuation of Stephen’s Upko, oblivious to its earlier birth as PDS. - Sabahkini