Sabah parties quit BN coalition, form new alliance

Former member parties of Barisan Nasional (BN) in Malaysia's Sabah state formed a new political alliance yesterday, effectively removing the former ruling coalition from the state.

The new opposition bloc, called Gabungan Bersatu Sabah (GBS), seeks to reinstate embattled Tan Sri Musa Aman as Sabah's chief minister.

"The formation of GBS is crucial as an umbrella for assemblymen of political parties who were part of the legitimate state government led by Tan Sri Musa Aman," said GBS in a statement, adding that its members were united in the "pursuit to fight for justice" for Mr Musa.

The pact was launched yesterday with Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Pairin Kitingan as interim chairman.

Even the Sabah chapter of Umno, the party which leads BN, took the unprecedented step of joining GBS.

This move precedes a promised change to Umno's Constitution to allow its state chapters more autonomy to decide on party policies at the state level, free from any influence or decision at the central level.

The other coalition partners include Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah.

With yesterday's developments, BN effectively no longer exists in East Malaysia, as member parties in Sarawak left the pact en bloc in June, after BN suffered a shock defeat in the May general election.

PBS deputy president Maximus Ongkili said that GBS was ready to form the state government if the current Parti Warisan Sabah-led government is declared unlawful by the court.

"The formation of GBS marks the end of Barisan Nasional in Sabah. We are an alternative body that is formed to pursue the interests of the state and we are on standby to take over the current government, whose legitimacy is still in question," he said.

Umno's Datuk Salleh Said Keruak, former minister of information and communications, is treasurer of the bloc.

 
 

Umno Sabah secretary Masidi Manjun said the alliance was set up in order to ensure that no single party was dominant over other parties.

"We want to introduce a new political culture in Sabah, that everybody is the same. The issue of one party dominating the others doesn't arise," he said.

The announcement of the new bloc comes ahead of Mr Musa's suit against Chief Minister Shafie Apdal and Sabah Governor Juhar Mahiruddin, to be heard in court today, to declare Mr Shafie's swearing-in as unconstitutional.

Mr Musa was sworn in as chief minister on May 10 following the general election, but Warisan claimed to have the majority in the state legislative assembly after several defections.

Mr Musa, however, says he had not yet resigned when Mr Shafie was sworn in.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2018, with the headline 'Sabah parties quit BN coalition, form new alliance'. Print Edition | Subscribe