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Opposition leaders ‘not from heaven’

By Luke Rintod and Pushparani Thilaganathan of FMT
A widespread whisper campaign may end Umno's reign in
Sabah, given the RCI revelations and Prime Minister
Najib Tun Razak's desperate need for his own
loyalists in the next GE.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Umno is bracing itself for back-to-back visits next week by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin.
Najib, who is to pay a two-day visit to Sabah on Feb 13-14, is expected to meet local Umno warlords and Barisan Nasional coalition partners in the state.
Though the visit has not been officially announced, sources said the prime minister is expected to call a BN meeting to formally notify the Sabah BN partners of the list of candidates for the on-coming 13th general election as well as the distribution of both state and parliamentary seats.
The prime minister’s visit comes after he reportedly met, last month, with Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud who handed him his list of those who will be contesting the impending election under the BN ticket.
Najib’s list, incidentally, did not go down well in Sarawak. A similar reaction is expected in Sabah.
Najib, who is fighting for survival within Umno, is picking his own loyalists from within Sabah Umno and BN.
It was reliably learnt that Najib will visit Beaufort, Papar and Tuaran. All three areas were won by the BN in the last election but are under threat by the opposition in the coming election.
Beaufort and Tuaran are now labelled “grey” areas for BN following the resignation of the MPs Lajim Ukin (Beaufort) and Wilfred Bumburing (Tuaran), who ditched BN for opposition Pakatan Rakyat.
Pakatan coalition leader Anwar Ibrahim is also expected to be in Sabah during the Chinese New Year. He is scheduled to visit on Feb 11.
Opposition not from heaven
Meanwhile, embattled Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, who is usually reticent, is fighting back against a whisper campaign that is underway among the KadazanDusun Murut communities.
Speaking to some 2,000 representatives of 350 grassroots NGOs in Sabah recently, Musa went to great lengths to remind them that the opposition was nothing more than “recycled” former BN leaders who were tainted and as such, had no right to take on such “godly” stance.
“They [opposition] forget that their leaders did not fall from heaven but are in fact recycled leaders…,” he said.
Musa is believed to have been alluding to Lajim and Bumburing.
Both have thrown their support behind Anwar and are actively “poisoning” the minds of the west coast Muslim and the KDMs.
Musa, who is Sabah Umno chief, is up against the wall both within the party and in his battle to retain BN’s foothold in the state.
According to a recent intelligence report, ground projects show BN winning 13 seats against the opposition’s 12. Sabah has 25 parliamentary seats.
In the 2008 general election, Sabah BN, which included local party SAPP, lost only one seat to the opposition. However, barely a few months after the election SAPP quit the coalition.
Recycled leaders
The latest intelligence figures are worrying Musa, who is allegedly open to forging alliances with other local parties.
The rumour mill is turning about SAPP and STAR. Both are now at the wayside after Pakatan dumped SAPP. STAR has, however, maintained its anti-peninsular parties stand.
Musa on his part has been careful not to completely “rule” out STAR and SAPP.
Even when he urged Sabahans to see through the “ruse” of the opposition, he was referring to Pakatan.
“Their call to change the government is just a ruse, a tactic to attract people’s attention, but it is a waste of time.
“We know the opposition [alluding to Lajim and Bumburing's groups] is going into villages and influencing the people and talking to them about changing the government.
“But Sabahans must remember that the opposition are recyled leaders who are there just waiting for good deals and who like to jump from one party to another.”
Musa’s call comes against the unravelling of the Sabah Royal Commission of Inquiry into the exponential increase in legalised illegal immigrants in the state.
Testimonies of witnesses here implicating Umno and the “highest level” of authority at state and in the federal capital have thrown Sabah Umno into chaos.
Double deals
Sabah Umno’s native component party leaders are scrambling to justify their presence in a coalition which had systematically neutralised their population, and Islamised and marginalised them.
Even as Musa spoke of the “many, many more development plans” for Sabah and BN’s “track record” and “proven ability” to develop Sabah, a whisper campaign of a “coup” within the state is making its rounds.
The campaign speaks of double deals and two-faced politicking within Umno and Sabah BN partners.
The turmoil within Sabah Umno appears to be a boon to Anwar.
Said a FMT source: “Things are getting messy. Looks like everyone is holding a dagger behind his [Musa] back. Musa and Najib are in the same both [boat]. People want them both out before the GE13.
“All this turmoil is good for Anwar. He is fishing in troubled waters. More troubled the water, more leverage for him, better for Pakatan. He is trying to court any rebel to his advantage.”
The source added that the Muhyiddin-Mahathir pact had caused deep divisions within the state Umno.
The BN native parties, meanwhile, are set to be torched in the coming polls, if the rage in the grassroots voices is any indication.
“They wanted an RCI to save themselves but the initial testimonies of witnesses… have shocked even them.
“Everything is in the open now, people are talking; they are angry. Even the immigrants are angry. They don’t like what is going on. Some of them are second and third generation Philippine and Indonesian immigrants. They’ve planted roots,” said one grassroots youth leader of a local NGO.
According to the youth leader, the Dusuns are particularly very angry.
“They feel that they’ve been the biggest victims of this citizenship-for-votes scam. Everyone is talking in whispers, in coffeeshops, in markets, in functions.
“They want Umno out of Sabah,” he said.

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