Taking a step back does not mean Sabah Umno has lost the plot, says Bung

KOTA KINABALU: Taking a step back does not mean Sabah Umno has lost the political game, says Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin.

“Taking a step back does not mean we lose, God willing, Sabah Umno will rise forever,” he said in a Facebook post, after party president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi asked for a cooling off period to mend strained ties with the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) government.

”Sabah Umno has been tested with various challenges and conjectures and we have gone through the bittersweet struggles,“ he said, adding that the party was always defending and protecting the rights of the people in the state.

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After a special meeting with Sabah Umno on Monday (Jan 30), Ahmad Zahid had asked for a “cooling off period” for him to talk to Chief Minister and GRS chairman Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor to find an amicable solution to the crisis triggered with Bung’s decision to withdraw Sabah Barisan Nasional’s support for the GRS government on Jan 6.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, told reporters on Monday (Jan 30) that he had asked for the cooling off period and would be taking personal initiative to resolve the issue.

“During this period, we take the view that no issue cannot be resolved. There are methods we will plan for, but we understand that to achieve this, there must be two-way understanding between Barisan and Umno with other political partners.

ALSO READ: Zahid to meet Hajiji, tells Sabah Umno to remain calm

“We will give priority to this approach,” Ahmad Zahid said in urging all parties to stop making further statements to aggravate the situation.

Sabah plunged into a political crisis that was triggered when Barisan-Umno assemblymen severed ties with GRS claiming that Hajiji was party-less after he and top leaders of Sabah Bersatu quit to become direct members of GRS.

Sabah Umno said that Hajiji was in contravention of the Sabah constitution which requires the Chief Minister to be a leader of a political party as GRS, which he led, was a coalition and not a political party.

Sabah Barisan worked with Parti Warisan and Parti KDM, nearly toppling Hajiji’s administration.0

ALSO READ: Bung: We’ll not recognise appointment of two Umno reps in Cabinet

However, Hajiji managed to secure a 44-seat majority in the 79-member state assembly, enabling him to remain as Chief Minister.

Four Umno dissidents, including one assemblyman aligned to the party, broke ranks to support Hajiji.

On Sunday (Jan 29), Hajiji disclosed that he will be leading local-based Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah (Gagasan Rakyat) as the political vehicle for ex-Bersatu members who left the national party on Dec 8.

He said that Gagasan Rakyat has already been admitted to GRS.

GRS, Barisan, Warisan and KDM are part of the national unity government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the national level.

Ahmad Zahid indicated that solutions to the impasse included building a similar unity government at the state level.