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Ongkili shoots his mouth off, hurts chances in PBS

BN minister's ill-advised retort against Sabah
PKR's Christina Liew has sparked derision and
laughter from among his colleagues and Sabahans.
KOTA KINABALU: Destitute widow Rosnia @ Annie Marambal and her three children may have dealt a lethal blow to the political ambitions of Kota Marudu MP Dr Maximus Ongkili.

Ongkili, who is Parti Bersatu Sabah’s (PBS) No 2 man has been touted as the successor of party strongman Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

But the recent disclosure that poverty still stalks the constituency he has represented for several years now may have given his detractors just the ammunition they need.

He is said to have recoiled in shame when the Rosnia’s family members in Matunggong, Kota Marudu, were pictured in their dilapidated zinc hut at Kampung Kandawayon.

Ongkili, the science, technology and innovation minister, then stirred more anger when he lambasted the opposition PKR for rushing to the aid of the Rosnia’s family.

“I built 90 houses in Kota Marudu and another 50 for Matunggong,” Maximus  boasted after PKR leader Christina Liew and her team helped build a house for the Marambal family.

“The opposition is playing up this matter. So okay, go and build as many houses as you can. How many can you build?

“I invite Liew to build as many as you can, how many can you build?

Just building one, you already make so much noise,” Ongkili had said. His ill-advised comments sparked derision and laughter among Sabahans, with criticism piling up against state Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders. It’s been a bad month for the State BN government under Chief Minister Musa Aman.

‘Cold war’

First came the exposure that all is not well in Sabah Umno. Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamalludin revealed that a “cold war” has been going on for some time between two factions in Sabah Umno, with Shafie Apdal, Sabah’s most senior Umno official, on one side and Musa on the other.

Then came the embarrassing revelation of the plight of poverty-stricken Rosnia, 36, a widow, and her three children whose living conditions stunned Rosmah Mansor, the wife of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

The opposition rubbed salt into the wound by highlighting how the family thanked them and the media for highlighting her predicament.

However, Ongkili may have shot himself in the foot with his unguarded remarks against Liew this week that many Sabahans saw as defensive as well as illogical.

They pointed out that many within and outside the government may be rubbing their hands in glee over his misstep.

Now, should Pairin, who is also the Huguan Siou or chief of the Kadazandusun community, step down, the knives will be out and the community may be split along political lines.

Waiting in the sidelines are a host of potential “Huguan Siou” should Pairin relinquish the post due to age.

Apart from Ongkili, the others in the running are his powerful former colleague in PBS, Bernard Dompok, as well as Pairin’s younger brother, Jeffrey Kitingan.

Dompok and others and perhaps even Pairin himself may be smiling that a potential threat may have taken himself out of the running, said a veteran community watcher.

“Anything can happen but I don’t think there are any other well-known leaders who can fill Pairin’s shoes even though he has lost the respect of many of the youth,” he said.

Tambunan hedgemony

Another source said the community is already split into two groups with many identifying themselves as coming from the coast and from the interior.

“They are fed up with Tambunan being the epicentre of the community and say it should be Penampang. They see it as a Tambunan hegemony.

“This split has been there for a long time, though the leaders have tried to play it down,” he added.

For Ongkili, his claim to leadership within the community has been resented by some who feel he has looked at it as a birthright.

Going by the history of the party, Ongikili is a fringe player who got to where he is through family ties and what some say was “favouritism”.

His elder brother the late James Ongkili did the party no favours it its early days, initially criticising Pairin and the newly formed PBS. “He (Maximus) lacks credibility and seniority in the party,” said a former PBS supporter who now claims to be apolitical.

In the meantime, it is not lost on many that the Kota Marudu MP, whose hometown is Tambunan, is said to be building quite a big house a stone’s throw from the house of his uncle, Pairin, who is Tambunan assemblyman and Keningau MP.

It is a double irony given that Rosnia’s family, constituents he should have taken care of, have also just moved into a new, albeit a more modest house.

1 comment:

  1. Dui muka tu bah ! Perasan ensem kunu ne pikuat si najib baginda


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