Sabah now an opposition state – new alignment on the cards?
Published on: Sunday, March 01, 2020
By: The Star
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Kota Kinabalu: Sabah became an opposition state on Sunday (March 1) for the first time since 1994 with the rise of a new Federal Government led by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. 

Parti Warisan Sabah, an ally of the fallen Pakatan Harapan government of Tun Dr Mahathir Mahathir Mohamad, is likely to see Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal facing pressure to shift his allegiance. 

Political analyst Rahezzal Shah said everyone would be watching Shafie under the new federal political climate.

“Going by past political history, (I would say) there is likelihood of a new political realignment happening in Sabah, as this would be the first time since 1994 that Sabah will have an opposition government,” he said.

In 1990, Parti Bersatu Sabah, led by then chief minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, pulled out of the Barisan Nasional government, and this led to Barisan snatching the state government back within the same year through massive defections. 

According to Rahezzal, Shafie and Muhyiddin had a close relationship in the past when they were in Umno, and both were forced out for questioning then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak over the 1MDB issue. 

“I believe both leaders can work it out as they are friends. 

"But there is also possibility that Muhyiddin will be pressured by Sabah Bersatu against working together with Warisan,” he said. 

“It is quite evident that the relationship between Sabah Bersatu and Warisan have been rocky the moment Bersatu spread its wings to Sabah in April last year,” he said. 

He added that the relationship between Warisan and Sabah Bersatu had always been filled with suspicion and mistrust. 

However, political observers say it would not be easy to dislodge Shafie’s Warisan-led state government which holds 48 state seats in the 65-member house, even after losing the support of nine assemblymen from Sabah Bersatu. 

Warisan itself holds a simple majority of 33 seats while its partners, DAP holds seven seats, Upko five and PKR three. 

Observers said the only danger would be from “massive” movements from within the coalition to team up with current state opposition parties Parti Bersatu Sabah (four assemblymen), Sabah STAR (three) and Sabah Umno (one). 

Shafie is expected to state the Warisan government's stand in due course, according to his officials.


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