THE massive exodus of Sabah Umno reps and members today will not jeopardise Umno as a political party and its status as the Malay/Bumiputera confidant in the country. For as long as the present scenario is concern, the party will not feel the losses from such an anticipated move.
One thing for sure, Umno under the stewardship of Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his team will exist for the core struggle of the Peninsula.
Its inception in Sabah began in 1990 following the cooperation between USNO and Berjaya.
I was in Kota Kinabalu when Tun Mustapha was appointed the first Sabah Umno chairman. The party president back then, Dr Mahathir – after Umno was revived as ‘Umno Baru’ – launched Sabah Umno on Feb 21, 1991 and Ghafar Baba was made the state liaison chairman.
The rest is history.
So, one can understand the reason behind such an exodus. Pakatan Harapan under Dr Mahathir – who created history to become a PM for the 2nd time after GE14 – is filled up with ex-Umno members. PPBM alone carries more or less similar Umno-copied bandwagon.
Sabah Umno, in the meanwhile, is full of unexpected characters. Its existence under the past government of Barisan Nasional was never accomodating. The central government was at its best to fulfil whatever demand made while they were quite ‘Sabah-centric’ in any reciprocal move.
‘Sabah for Sabahans’ is always their pride, that it develops a barrier between the state and the Peninsula. Any effort to close in the gap will not only met with strong opposition from NGOs but also some rejections by the government.
And since Umno is no longer a ruling party, the political corp in Sabah felt deprived of Putrajaya’s reach. With the state under Warisan where Chief Minister Shafie Apdal is also from Umno, they saw that the only way to continue with their local contribution is by alligning themselves with PH and Warisan. After allm they are all Sabahans.
No, it is not suppose to tear Umno apart. In Sabah politics, parties come and go. USNO, Berjaya and SDP, just to name a few. There’ve been dozens more, some still exist and many were gone.
Umno is another case. The Sabah politics places ‘central-cling’ policy in the state management. Since Umno is now an opposition and a subject of ‘witch-hunting’ by Dr Mahathir’s government, the party is assumed not worthy in their specification.
In simple words, its all about money. Whoever controls the government’s purse, that’s the new playmaker. After GE14, the Sabahans felt deserted if they were to hang around with Umno and BN.
Sparked with Anifah Aman’s exit from Umno on Sept 19, Labuan MP and others, the only option that they saw was to jump the ship. Umno is in ‘destitude’ now since all accounts were put under freeze by the government. Since then, activities were subjected to tight budgeting and courtesy by a few members.
But Zahid and Umno are well aware of the Sabah issue. Even sec-gen Annuar Musa said yesterday that part of the reasons for the exodus is well-understood – its about leaving a party without money.
Zahid himself should not take up the exodus issue personally. Its written in the lines of the palm. Umno must be re-engineered for the Peninsula Malays and Bumiputeras. Most of them were born and have lived with Umno.
I used to whispered to one Umno high-raking official before the last party AGM that anybody who wished to quit may do so before the AGM. It would easier for the office bearers to run the party with the loyalists among them, rather than having to see one after another leaving after the AGM. At least Zahid would have a peace of mind managing it.
But I am only an ordinary member.
Umno must go on. It must continue to exist. As the first Umno president as an Opposition Leader, Zahid has a big task ahead but I am convinced that Umno will rule again.
Let’s forget about Sabah exodus. Keep the ones who are still with Umno. There are still loyalists in the state. In them lies another cycle of future Sabah politics with Umno. Its not worth a tear!
March on! They will come back to Umno… in a new form.