Sabah Umno chief Bung Moktar Radin today revealed that he had no choice but to accede to demands from fellow Barisan Nasional (BN) assemblymen in the state not to break away from Perikatan Nasional (PN), with whom the party went together as allies in the recent polls.
Bung, BN’s nominee for chief minister, said the coalition was also aware that it was outnumbered in terms of seats won by its allies in Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) which brings together BN, PN and PBS.
BN, represented by Sabah Umno, won 14 seats, while Bersatu (representing PN) and PBS, which nominated Hajiji Nor as chief minister, together took 24.
“We must respect democracy – the party with the most seats gets the chief minister’s post,” Bung, Umno’s nominee for the post, said in a statement.
This followed protests from Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who insisted that Bung should be the CM, citing how the Malay party had compromised in giving the prime minister’s post to Bersatu’s Muhyiddin Yassin.
There was speculation earlier that Umno could break away from GRS and work with Warisan to form the government in a bid to deny Hajiji the CM’s post.
Hajiji led an exodus of Umno assemblymen and leaders in Sabah in late 2018, almost paralysing the party’s state chapter.
Bung said Umno assemblymen had told him that they did not want to be the opposition again.
“As Sabah Umno chief, I am obliged to fulfil their demand,” the Kinabatangan MP added.
He also urged his supporters not to blame Zahid, thanking the Umno president for helping in the campaign.
At a press conference today, Bung called for unity within the GRS alliance and for an end to political games.
The state election saw the downfall of Warisan, which cooperated with DAP, PKR, Upko and Amanah but failed to repeat the coalition’s achievement in 2018 when it swept to power on the back of allegations of massive corruption in the Najib Razak administration.