Despite defection letdown, PKR focuses on change in Sabah
KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 — Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Datuk Seri Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing did not defect as widely speculated yesterday but Sabah’s rumour mills still turn as PKR leaders continue to exude confidence over their prediction of an imminent shift in the state’s political landscape.
Even the Tuaran MP added to the speculation last night by playing coy when questioned byThe Malaysian Insider on the matter, saying: “Nothing happened now, I will let you know when it happens.”
“I have to be careful with what I say in front of reporters,” he added, laughing.
Bumburing is puzzled as to why the national media is suddenly focusing on his supposed defection to the opposition. Picture courtesy of sabahkinimirror.blogspot.com
There was no outright denial however from the calm-sounding United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisations (UPKO) deputy president, whose rumoured defection yesterday was said to have caught the local media in a harried state of confusion.
“Let’s put it this way. It is simply this — today’s speculation was not true. Nothing happened. I was just doing my job as the Tuaran MP.
“I know a lot of people were expecting things. But I do not know why the national media is suddenly focusing on me now,” he said.
Bumburing was expected at 3.30pm yesterday to shed his BN colours at a Pesta Kaamatan festival in Kota Belud alongside Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, but a downpour had waylaid the PKR de facto leader for over two hours.
Bumburing’s purported defection was to kick off about five more crossovers to PKR, with local politicians having earlier named UPKO vice-president Senator Datuk Maijol Mahap, former Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Osu Sukam, former Banggi assemblyman Datuk Amir Kahar Mustapha and former federal minister Tan Sri Kasitah Gaddam, as among the few likely to jump ship.
But after the flight delay, Anwar was whisked off to attend a PKR function elsewhere in Kota Kinabalu, and was kept occupied until at night when he had to grace another PKR event at the Star City Convention Hall.
As at midnight shortly after the dinner function, the speculated crossovers remained mere rumours.
But despite the spectre of PKR’s failed September 16 takeover of Putrajaya still dangling over their heads, party leaders remained unfrazzled by the apparent letdown.
When pressed for updates by reporters at the evening gathering, Anwar neither denied nor confirmed if the rumours were true to begin with.
“That is not my statement,” he said, when asked to confirm if six prominent Sabah BN leaders would join PKR. A transcript of his response was sent to The Malaysian Insider by the local media.
Anwar, however, admitted to having met with some of the individuals speculated as likely to join PKR but did not state the purpose of such meetings.
“We meet with so many individuals from time to time, including some of these people who are mentioned. That’s it,” he said.
Pressed to answer if he had “expected” that Bumburing would shift to PKR’s camp, Anwar merely said: “That, you should ask him.”
He, however, appeared to stand by his earlier claim that the opposition has seen marked improvement in its Sabah support, referring to it this time as a “growing momentum”.
“That is why I have always said and continue to give this message across, particularly to our friends in the peninsula, that you must accept the stark reality that Sabah and Sabahans are ready for change,” he said.
When contacted late last night, PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang, who is said to be the pointman for the defections, concurred with Anwar, saying that Sabah, long seen a BN fortress, was no longer the ruling pact’s fixed deposit.
“I stand by what I said earlier today, all that remains true,” he said.
Earlier yesterday, Chua had told The Malaysian Insider that the groundswell against BN in Sabah has been fast gaining momentum, turning the reference to Sabah as BN’s fixed deposit a “clear misconception”.
“I think that any politician who is sensitive to what is going on would pick up on this vibe,” he said.
The Batu MP also disagreed that the lack of defections yesterday would sully PKR’s credibility, pointing out that it was not the party’s leaders who had played up the rumours.
“It was speculation by the media. We never announced, never gave a date or time. Even Anwar never said that he came to Sabah for that,” he said.