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Anwar shadows Najib to drum change for Sabah

By Luke Rintod of FMT
Umno and BN leaders know that there is little love
lost in Sabah for the ruling coalition as people
continue to feel the effects of higher prices.
KOTA KINABALU: Wherever Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak goes, the silhouette of a senior Pakatan Rakyat leader is never too far away from him and the same will happen when he visits Sabah this weekend.
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim is due in Sabah this Friday on a weekend visit a day ahead of a two-day visit by the premier who will be in the state to shore up support for his Barisan Nasional coalition.
However, while the state administration has announced Najib’s itinerary in Penampang, Kundasang and Kudat, Anwar’s visit is lower-profile.
According to PKR vice president Tian Chua, he will accompany Anwar this Friday to visit the interior Sabah parliamentary districts of Keningau, Tenom and Pensiangan.
“Anwar and I are coming this Friday to Tenom, Pensiangan and Keningau to rally support for the party,” he texted in reply to a FMT query on whether opposition leaders would be in Sabah at the same time as Najib as has been the practice.
According to local PKR leaders, Anwar will reiterate Pakatan’s pledges to Sabah it made in its shadow budget for 2013 if it wins the coming general election.
“They are expected to mount assaults against the Umno regime and the leadership of Musa Aman as Sabah’s Chief Minister,” said a PKR leader here.
The opposition party leaders are also expected to drag Umno’s strongest ally in the Sabah BN government, Parti Bersatu Sabah, into the conflict.
“It will definitely be along those lines. We will expose more wrong-doings and yes PBS leaders including (Joseph) Pairin will be dragged in as accomplices and accessories to all the abuse of power and public funds by virtue of their support for Umno,” said another PKR leader.
Najib is on his fifth visit to Sabah this year. His previous visits to the state also corresponded with that of Pakatan leaders Lim Kit Siang of DAP and Awang Hadi of PAS.
BN leaders worried
While Najib has publicly declared that he is confident BN would retain power in Sabah and showed this by ignoring the state to a large extent in his recent 2013 Budget, BN leaders here are privately concerned with the growing dissatisfaction by Sabahans about the low level of development of their state.
The indications that opposition is gaining growing support in the BN’s ‘fixed deposit’ state is reflected in Najib’s repeated visits to Sabah where 25 parliamentary seats are up for grabs in the looming elections.
Local and national leaders have also grown more sensitive to allegations of corruption and arrogance as the countdown to the elections that must be called by April next year begins.
Anwar and his Pakatan coalition on the other hand have announced sweeteners for the state to ditch the ruling coalition as they have done in the past.
Umno and BN leaders know that there is little love lost in Sabah for the ruling coalition as people continue to feel the effects of having to pay more for food and basic items as the government cuts back on subsidies in response to a slowing global economy.
Pakatan has promised to increase of oil royalty payment to the poverty-stricken state from 5% to 20% if it forms the federal government and is something Sabahans have been demanding for decades after state leaders inexplicably surrendered the state’s resources.
Meanwhile, it is rumoured that scores of Sabah leaders including another corporate leader, would announce their entry into PKR during Anwar’s visit.
Top of the list is Dr Richard Gunting, a Murut leader, who was the general manager of state-owned Koperasi Pembangunan Desa (KPD).
According to insiders, Gunting is a potential PKR candidate for the Tenom seat.

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