The politicking in Sabah reminds me of a playground. In the game to be the Sabah Chief Minister, three playground equipment are at play – swing, see-saw and slide.
The maths in the Sabah power play is that a minimum of 40 assemblymen is needed to oust Chief Minister and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) chairman Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor. Sabah has 79 assemblymen – 73 elected and six appointed.
On Wednesday (Jan 4), GRS secretary-general Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun stated that Hajiji has majority support to remain as CM.
Masidi didn’t give a breakdown of parties or assemblymen supporting Hajiji, who was elected chief minister after the loose electoral pact of GRS, Barisan Nasional and Parti Bersatu Sabah won the 2020 Sabah election. The only number he gave was seven from Pakatan Harapan, which is in the opposition in Sabah, backed the CM.
There was party hopping after the state election. For those who need help keeping track, here’s the number.
GRS 29 (direct members who quit Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia 15, PBS seven, Sabah Star six and SAPP one) + Barisan (all from Umno) 17 = 46 assemblymen.
Parties that may or may-not-be friendly with the GRS/Barisan state government
Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat three and Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah, Parti Bangsa Malaysia, PAS and Independent one each.
Parti Warisan 19 and Pakatan Harapan seven (DAP four, PKR two and Upko one).
Like a swing, the loyalty of some Sabah politicians can move back and forth. Sabah Umno, which Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin heads, may swing away from Hajiji.
If that happens, the see-saw of power in Sabah can tilt to a coalition government led by Warisan, headed by former chief minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, including Umno and small parties with one or three assemblymen.
There’s no anti-hopping law in Sabah. The numbers Hajiji and Shafie have are like a see-saw – they change rapidly and repeatedly from one political opportunity to another and back again.
On Thursday (Jan 5), Shafie cancelled a 4.30pm press conference after the media waited for about two hours. The talk is the press conference was postponed as the Warisan president didn’t have the numbers to oust Hajiji.
Bung was supposed to provide 17 Umno assemblymen. But there were three to five who disagreed.
On Thursday, Bung denied Umno was ditching the state government. Pakatan too distanced itself from the Warisan-led plot.
A politician who lacks enough assemblymen to become CM needs the slide effect. When the politician is close to forming a government, reluctant assemblymen may hurriedly slide down to be part of the winners club.
If he loses the support of Umno and smaller parties like Parti KDM, PBM, PAS or PHRS, Hajiji needs the support of the seven Pakatan assemblymen. His possible number is GRS 29 (ex-Bersatu 15, PBS seven, Sabah Star six and SAPP one) + Umno (rebels) three to five + Pakatan seven + one or two small parties and an independent = 40 plus.
The Sabah political playground game is ain’t over. Shafie wants to be CM, again.