A Barisan Nasional loyalist in Sabah thinks the threat of a growing opposition is good for BN's younger politicians.
KOTA KINABALU 4/11/2012: Sabah Barisan Nasional seems unfazed by the spins spewing out of the political rumour mill and are confident of retaining the state albeit having more opposition faces in the state assembly and losing some parliamentary seats.
But that’s alright, says Sekong assemblyman Samsuddin Yahya because Umno BN is ‘overall’ confident about its voters loyalty and will not lose its clout in the upcoming 13th general election.
“We are not worried about the Muslim and KDM (KadazanDusunMurut) votes. We are confident. Only the Chinese seats worry us. KK (Kota Kinabalu) is most a difficult seat for us because it is majority Chinese,”
he told FMT recently.
He was alluding to the widespread reports that the opposition was making damaging inroads into the Muslim and KDM communities in the state and that the state BN could lose up to 20 parliamentary seats in the next election
Samsuddin’s Sekong constituency comprises both these communities and some Chinese.
Sekong and Karamunsing sectors come under BN-Parti Bersatu Sabah held Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency. The Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency is adjacent to Sandakan bordering Libaran and Kinabatangan. Sandakan is a pipeline of BN loyalists.
In the 2010 Batu Sapi by-election, BN won the seat by a 6,359 vote majority. PBS rode on Umno’s support against a divided opposition.
BN-PBS candidate Linda Tsen faced off with PKR’s Ansari Abdullah and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee. At that time SAPP was attempting an alliance with Pakatan Rakyat but seat allocations was always the issue.
BN, said Samsuddin, is confident of retaining the Batu Sapi parliamentary seat this time round. And again local observers add, it will be because the opposition coalition is still divided.
For reasons best known to the local political circles here, SAPP can’t seem to gel with the opposition parties, all of whom are clamouring to lead the people into the next general election. No group seem to want SAPP.
SAPP and BN
A former chief minister under the Sabah CM-rotation system, Yong’s personal and political history has much to do with this.
The politics here spout a love-hate relationship with him. Some don’t trust Yong, others hate his guts.
But Umno, it appears is good with him. A local political analyst went so far as to say “Umno needs him before and after GE. They’re old flames”
Whilst in the BN coalition, SAPP contested in four seats and won with Umno’s help two parliamentary and two state.
But SAPP quit the coalition in 2008 and has since been in the wilderness, having tried to hook up with Pakatan and then local State Reform Party (STAR) under Jeffrey Kitingan but to no avail.
Now its four seats are being horse-traded within BN with every other partner in the party staking a claim.
Thus far there’s been no word from Chief Minister Musa Aman on the four seats.
In Kuala Lumpur however the grapevine is talking of Yong’s “probable” return to BN fold but not necessarily as a “partner”.
Willy Yong has no bone with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak or Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Afterall it was his hand that helped push out Abdullah Badawi, and gave Najib leverage. Yong apparently has “some” secrets with Mahathir and Najib. Again rumour has it that he’s in their good books.
In which case if there’s a payback then it would be now.
In the 2008 election BN’s seat tally in Peninsular Malaya was 85 seats against Pakatan 80. It was Sabah and Sarawak that creamed it for BN.
Sabah only lost one parliamentary seat – Kota Kinabalu – won by DAP’s Hiew King Cheu in the 2008 polls.
‘Opposition threat good for BN‘
However that same year, SAPP which held Tawau and Sepanggar parliamentary seats quit the coalition joining the opposition bench.
In the 2008 polls Sarawak DAP won one parliamentary seat – Bandar Kuching. However in a by-election in 2010, DAP wrested Bandar Sibu seat from BN-SUPP.
Going into the 13th GE, speculations are rife that opposition Pakatan may wrest six parliamentary seats in Sarawak and together with Star take away 12 from BN in Sabah.
At stake in Sabah are 26 parliamentary seats, including one in Labuan. Sarawak has 31 parliamentary.
But will it affect BN in Sabah and Sarawak? Observers think not.
In fact, the current threat from the opposition has pushed BN partners to consolidate themselves in the smoke-swirling political backrooms.
Said one Sabah BN loyalist when asked about the growing opposition threat and its effects: “No threat… good challenge. Makes us think. We don’t accept old arguments anymore. Being filial has nothing to do with getting the job done!”