Will Warisan Make Any Headway In Sabah’s Political Landscape?

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Shafie Apdal and Darell Leiking with his key leaders showing off the Warisan logo after they received the certificate of registration from the Registrar of Societies.

By NASHIR MANSOR
KOTA KINABALU – “It’s still too early to gauge the impact of Parti Warisan Sabah’s (Warisan) emergence in Sabah.”

That was Universiti Malaysia Sabah (USM) senior lecturer Dr Zaini Othman’s spontaneous reply when asked to comment on Sabah’s new opposition party, helmed by former UMNO vice-president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

Zaini’s guarded response was typical of an academic who would need more time to gather data and analyse the information before arriving at a conclusion.

Shahelmey Yahya
Shahelmey Yahya

Pose the same question to a seasoned politician and you get a totally different reaction, as was the case with UMNO Putatan division youth head Shahelmey Yahya, who promptly dismissed Warisan as a party that “will go nowhere and will surely be rejected by the people of Sabah”.

There is ample basis for his bleak prophecy, he stressed, as not many people would want to back a political party that was established out of frustration and anger at the ruling government.

“It’s obvious the founders (of Warisan) have a personal agenda to fulfill and don’t have the interests of the people or nation at heart,” he said.

MOTIVATED BY ANGER

Shahelmey said two other Warisan leaders – deputy president Darrel Leiking and vice-president Junz Wong – had resigned from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and DAP respectively due to dissatisfaction and frustration.

“It’s obvious that their dissatisfaction with their former parties is the common factor that has brought these leaders together and compelled them to be part of Warisan. Can we trust leaders who decide to form a new party after they become frustrated with their former parties?

“Their struggle is not a genuine one and they are only out to discredit the (ruling) government,” he told Bernama.

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Shahelmey said it would be a waste of time for the people of Sabah to listen to slogans like “Sabah for Sabahans” bandied about by opposition parties as only the Barisan Nasional (BN) could assure them of a better quality of life through its development agenda.

Instead of championing the Sabah for Sabahans slogan now, Shafie should have taken the opportunity to bring about more development in Sabah when he served as the federal Rural and Regional Development minister, said Shahelmey.

“I think most of the people in Sabah are mature enough to differentiate parties that are serious about developing the state from the ones that are driven by anger,” he said.

Shahelmey claimed that PKR and DAP had won the Penampang parliamentary seat and Likas state seat in the 13th general election by playing on local sentiments and stoking the anger of the electorate.

Those two elected representatives – Darell and Wong respectively – have now left the parties which they had used as their platform to induce the people to vote for them, he added.

Election fever in Sabah in 2013.
Election fever in Sabah in 2013.

“In other words, they no longer have confidence in the parties that they used to belong to. If the leaders themselves lack confidence, then how will the people have faith in the opposition parties which, obviously, are in a state of disarray,” he said.

PROVEN TRACK RECORD

Pakatan NGO Pro-BN president Datuk Zulkarnain Mahdar believed that Warisan would neither gain much ground in Sabah’s political scene nor throw UMNO or BN off balance.

In fact, he added, the appearance of the party may turn out to be an advantage for the ruling coalition.

“Shafie’s sudden emergence in Sabah to champion the local people’s interests can be regarded as mere rhetoric… we all know he is just out to unleash his anger at BN,” he said.

Zulkarnain said if Shafie – who is the MP for Semporna – had been sincere about helping the people of Sabah, he would have done so while he was a Cabinet minister.

He said the former Rural and Regional Development minister had ample scope to help his people as his ministry received an annual allocation of between RM3 billion and RM5 billion.

USM’s Zaini said while BN has a proven track record in terms of its contributions to the development of Sabah since the 1970s, the coalition should not rest on its laurels.

“Now is the time for BN to play a more constructive role by evaluating its achievements and making improvements if there are shortcomings, in order to realise its objective of bringing about real development in the state,” he added.

  • This article was first published by BERNAMA