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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Infighting in Sabah BN hots up


The infighting among Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) component party members is unlikely to die down any time soon, now that a senior Sabah Umno leader has jumped into the fray.

The infighting was sparked by Umno Kalabakan’s call to oust the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from a state assembly seat it currently hold when the next general election is held .

LDP is a member of the Sabah BN coalition.

Umno Penampang division chief, John Ambrose Dumpangol, said it is up to the BN leadership to decide on Umno Kalabakan's request to take Merotai state seat back from the LDP.

Dumpangol also took a swipe at the LDP leadership for rejecting the call by 191 Umno branches in Kalabakan. The branches had unanimously voted on June 11 to retake the Merotai seat.

He said LDP does not have the right or jurisdiction to reject the request but was silent on whether it was appropriate for Umno Kalabakan to air the dispute in the media.

His fall-back plan requires Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to step in and solve the thorny issue that arose when Kalabakan MP Ghapur Salleh demanded that LDP vacate the Merotai state seat.

Umno had held the seat up to the 2004 election when it was handed over to LDP under BN's seat-sharing formula that the coalition's component party members are required to adhere to in the so-called “BN spirit”.

"We should leave it to the prime minister, who is also the BN chairman, to make a decision on the matter," Dumpangol said yesterday.

Total disrespect

LDP publicity officer Albert Kok had earlier caused further consternation among Umno Sabah members when he rejected outright Umno Kalabakan's demand.

Kok contended that Ghapur's call was a total disrespect to the BN struggle and power-sharing concept.

He disputed the claim that the Merotai seat was on loan to LDP from Umno, saying that Umno Sabah must recognise that the cornerstone of the coalition is its long-held agreement to distribute seats equally to all its component parties irrespective of voter make-up.

Kok accused Ghapur and the 191 Umno branches of attempting to set a dangerous precedent in the coalition in Sabah.

He said that if the demand was entertained, all Sabah BN component parties could simply disregard each other and do as they please, which would be against the interest of BN as a whole.

"If they can do it to Merotai, what is stopping them from doing the same in other areas?"

He said the State BN leadership's failure to quash such demands reflected poorly on its control of the state.

Political grievances

However, Dumpangol sees nothing wrong with state BN leaders openly taking their political grievances to the media.

He also denied Kok's allegation that the LDP had also been continuously victimised and bullied by other BN component parties.

According to him, it was LDP leaders who had breached the BN spirit of comradeship.

"LDP leaders not only publicly criticised and ridiculed the BN leadership and other BN component parties, but also told BN leaders to stop treating Sabah as a 'fixed deposit'," said Dumpangol.

He was referring to statements made by LDP deputy president Chin Su Phin who stirred the hornets’ nest when he suggested earlier this year that Sabah BN leaders were out of sync with the people’s need.

Since his statement, LDP has been subjected to less than a subtle campaign by its fellow BN colleagues to toe the line.

Chin has since been removed from his post at a government agency dealing with housing and town planning, a position given as a reward to faithful BN party members.

The Merotai state seat, one of the state constituencies in the Kalabakan parliamentary constituency, was held by Dr Patawari who was moved to a new state constituency, Sebatik, following the re-delineation of the electoral boundaries.

Liew Yun Fah, who was with LDP at that time, took over from him but was dropped and replaced by LDP vice-president Pang Yuk Ming, who was appointed Assistant Infrastructure Development Minister and chairman of Sabah Air after the 2008 general election.

courtesy of FMT

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