By Luke Rintod
KOTA KINABALU: Four key Sabah-based groups are set to meet “officially” for the first time to discuss the formation of an alliance called United Borneo Alliance (UBA) and possibly discuss allocation of seats among themselves in preparation for the general election.
Representatives from the State Reform Party (STAR) Sabah chapter, Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), Sabah Peoples Front (SPF) and the new Usno, which is seeking registration, will be meeting coordinators of the United Borneo Front (UBF), the initiators of the alliance, here today.
Usno veteran and former Kadamaian assemblyman, Ismail Gimbad, is expected to chair today’s meeting. It is understood Ismail is not a member of any political party at the moment.
The aim of the meeting is to reach a consensus to form a single opposition alliance to make it easy for the electorate to identify, something similar to UBA as promoted by UBF leader, Jeffrey Kitingan.
Political analysts however remain skeptical as leaders of these small and divided groupings have a history of going their own way and this was evident in the last general election in 2008.
One analyst known only as Bong said: “I would be surprised if these groupings could agree on a common platform … no matter how hopeless (their chances are individually), they lack rationale and are unrealistically ambitious”.
“The opposition leaders in Sabah, with due respect, just love to fight each other for the post of Chief Minister.
“So glued are they to their common aim that more often than not, they forget their priority in an election, is to defeat their common enemy.
“Today’s meeting will signal if they have changed or are still their same self (like in 2008),” said a skeptical Bong.
Parties must get act together
Another local political observer who requested anonymity said these parties must realise now that they would only stand a chance against mighty Barisan Nasional if they act together and put up a consolidated front in the coming general election.
The 13th general election is due only next year but many believe Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak might dissolve parliament anytime this year, sooner rather than later.
Insiders within the Sabah opposition circle told FMT that today’s meeting, if successful, would set the pace for a more robust follow-up meetings to iron out the details of a common alliance such as its name and its composition.
“There should be a joint press conference after the meeting today. We will discuss among Sabah-based parties first and we talk later to Peninsular-based parties,” said one of them.
SAPP meanwhile was said to have already held meetings with PKR on its own accord but nothing satisfactory has come out of it except that PKR is willing to give way in a very few seats to SAPP.
Leaders of SAPP were said to be dissatisfied with the outcome and are willing to meet other parties from Sabah, notably STAR and SPF. SPF is rumoured to be on the verge of being taken-over by Umno strongman, Lajim Ukin.
Today is also a date which insiders have picked out as the day Lajim and his groups would make an “important announcement”.
If he takes the plunge, it is claimed, Umno leaders like former chief minister Osu Sukam, former federal minister Kasitah Gadam, former deputy chief minister Amir Kahar Mustapha, current assemblymen Karim Bujang (Bongawan) and Abdul Rahim Ismail (Pantai Manis) and scores of others will follow him.
One of Lajim’s trusted friends, Narawi Ahmad, is said to be in the SPF delegation.