Sabah BN unaffected by Ibrahim’s defection to PKR, says Shafie Apdal
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 — The defection of former Sabah Umno treasurer Tan Sri Ibrahim Menudin to PKR will not threaten the position of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in the state, Umno vice president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said today.
Ibrahim is the fourth senior Sabah BN politician to defect to the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in recent months ahead of the 13th general elections.
Shafie (picture), who is also the minister for rural and regional development, said that such crossovers are part and parcel of politics.
“That’s common (asam garam) in politics ... Sabah is a unique state.”
“Anyhow we will continue fighting, even if we hear of turbulence here and there, but it does not threaten BN’s position in Sabah,” he told reporters today.
Shafie said Ibrahim’s crossover to PKR is proof of the freedom to practise democracy in this country.
“That’s the freedom of our democratic system,” said the Semporna MP.
Shafie does not view Ibrahim as a threat to BN if he contests for the Labuan parliamentary seat in the coming general elections.
“No problem if they want to place him...want to fight (contest),” he stressed, after officiating the meeting for the Lembah Pantai Umno representatives here.
Sabah was previously known as BN’s “fixed deposit” for votes.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yesterday officially announced Ibrahim’s crossover to PKR in front of over 2,000 voters in Kampung Batu Arang, Labuan.
Ibrahim’s post in Umno had been taken over by the current Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman. Ibrahim is the non-executive director of state-owned Suria Capital Holdings Bhd.
PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, who was also present at Ibrahim’s crossover announcement yesterday, did not dismiss the possibility of Ibrahim being fielded as a PKR candidate in Labuan in the coming general elections.
“(The PKR) leadership does not have a final decision on candidates... but he is a very likely candidate to represent PKR,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.
In July, Beaufort MP Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin and Tuaran MP Datuk Seri Wilfred Bumburing quit BN, and respectively formed the PR-aligned movements Pakatan Perubahan Sabah (PPS) and Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS).
Last month, the duo were joined by Umno’s Senator Datuk Maijol Mahap.
Federal seats in east Malaysia’s Sabah and Sarawak are expected to be BN’s focal point come the general election as both states, including the federal territory of Labuan, contribute a significant 57 seats, or 25 per cent of the 222 parliamentary seats available.
In Election 2008, BN lost its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority largely due to significant losses in the peninsula. The opposition won 82 seats to BN’s 140.
BN’s saving grace was in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan where the coalition trounced the opposition and made a near-clean sweep, winning 55 parliamentary seats to the opposition’s two.
However with the recent defections, BN now holds 53 parliamentary seats in east Malaysia, while the opposition’s score is now four.