By BORNEOTODAY REPORTERS
KOTA MARUDU: Barisan Nasional is facing an exodus of its grassroots leaders posing a major blow to the ruling coalition as Parti Warisan Sabah attracts the renegades ahead of the forthcoming general election.
The latest to ditch the BN, despite its numerous promises, is Umno and PBS members in Kota Marudu where on Sunday, Shafie Apdal received more than 1,680 people mainly from the two main BN components.
Led by Ismail Diman, the village Security and Development (JKKK) chairman of Tambun Laut, they handed their forms to Warisan president, Shafie Apdal at a meet-the-people session in Kg Tambun Laut here.
The defection of these people show they are unhappy with BN because rural folks such as them have been neglected since the coalition took over in Sabah more than 20 years ago.
In rural areas of Sabah, the people are lamenting the same chorus and they are crying out for change.
“People come to Najib’s events because they are given rice, sugar, outboard motors and other goodies. Here today, in spite of the rain and in spite of me bearing no gifts to lure you all, you have come in hordes to support Warisan,” Shafie said.
When addressing the crowd, he said: “I feel for you. I understand your situation. When Warisan comes into power, all this will change. I will make sure my wakil rakyat will serve you as you rightly deserve.”
He told them not to be fooled by more promises from BN leaders who keep saying that the people must vote BN for development.
“But do you still want to vote for such people when they have done nothing for you?”
He said if the people opted not to change now they would continue to suffer for the next five years, while the BN leaders become richer.
Shafie wondered aloud why leaders like Pairin Kitingan and Dr Maximus Ongkili failed to fight for Sabah rights and the crowd responded: “Diarang takut!” (They’re scared!)
He retorted: “No. They are only interested in lining their own pockets.”
He was taken aback by Najib’s remarks in Kiulu recently that if the people returned BN candidates in Tuaran, more roads would be built in the constituency.
“What? BN’s development projects now come with conditions?”
Warisan’s promise to the people in the northern part of Sabah is to build a deep water port in Kudat to seize advantage of the heavy sea traffic in the region.
With such a port, there will be many spin-off activities in the service and manufacturing industries that will create many job opportunities.
“People in Kudat and Kota Marudu will no longer have to go to Kuala Lumpur for their livelihood. There will be plenty of jobs here and trading will also flourish.”
With many parties expected to contest in the elections, Shafie said Warisan is not worried because he believes the people are politically mature and would know which party is capable of forming the government.
“I’m sure they will not vote for those parties that can only return one assemblyman to the state assembly and are incapable of toppling BN.
“Warisan can contest in all the seats if we want to but we will work with Pakatan Harapan. The reason why veteran leaders like Dr Mahathir, Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang can come together to take on BN is because they want to save the country.”
Shafie added that he too loves Sabah and wants to save the state from further misery which was why he gave up a comfortable job in the federal cabinet by questioning Najib’s policies.
Among those who joined Warisan on Sunday were former exco of Parti Harapan Rakyat in Kota Marudu and members of STAR as well as Maklin Monsiou, an activist of Sabah Rights from Pitas.
Earlier Sunday, Shafie and his entourage addressed the crowd at Kampung Parapat
Also present were Paul Voon, former deputy president of Parti Cinta Sabah, VK Liew, ex-president of LDP, Ahmadshah Tambakau, former deputy minister during Berjaya, and Ibrahim Menudin, Sabah Umno’s first treasurer.