GRS-Barisan pact in Sabah could be on shaky ground with unity govt at federal level

A question of whether Sabah Barisan will continue to lend its support to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor, from Perikatan Nasional, is on the lips of Sabah political circles.


November 25, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR – The Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition state government with Barisan Nasional may be on shaky ground as Pakatan Harapan’s Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has been sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister.

A question of whether Sabah Barisan, led by Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, will continue to lend its support to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor, from Perikatan Nasional, is on the lips of Sabah political circles.

Political talk in the state capital is that there is a possibility that Sabah Barisan might now re-align itself with their new national partners Parti Warisan led by Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal and Pakatan Harapan in Sabah.

The three parties – Barisan, Warisan and Pakatan – can command a simple majority of 43 seats in the 79-member Sabah Assembly if Bung decides to pull Barisan’s support from the GRS government.

Bung has not been happy with GRS chairman Hajiji after the latter voiced GRS’ support for Perikatan chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for prime minister.

Bung said that the act was a “declaration of war” against Barisan as Hajiji had failed to keep a pre-election pact to support Barisan’s choice of prime minister.

However, Hajiji said that they did not breach the pact as Barisan had lost the election and as such they were not in the running for the post.

In response to Bung’s outburst, Hajiji urged Bung to continue to maintain the Sept 2020 mandate given by the people in the snap state election.

GRS, comprising Sabah Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), Sabah STAR, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), won six Parliament seats through four by Sabah Bersatu and one each by Sabah STAR and PBS.

Barisan won its seven seats with Sabah Umno taking six while Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) won one.

GRS and its partners remained in support of Muhyiddin as prime minister until just hours before Anwar’s swearing in at 5pm Thursday (Nov 24), when it took the stand to support a unity government.

Many foresee a new political realignment in Sabah that will take place immediately or within the next few weeks.

Sabah has yet to adopt the anti-hop law that would not allow individual assemblymen to cross the floor.

Parti Cinta Sabah deputy president Datuk James Ligunjang agreed that political realignments could be on the cards but felt that GRS should consider a state “unity” government similar to the Federal Government.

“They should invite Upko and Warisan to be part of this new unity state government with all parties setting aside their differences for the bigger interests of the state.

“We could focus together in demanding Sabah rights and building the state economy. Enough of fighting with each other,” Ligunjang said.

Hajiji is set to table the Sabah Budget 2023 on Friday (Nov 25) amid talk that the state government might also table the anti-hop law.

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