Emergence of a Borneo Bloc likely
PETALING JAYA: Former Umno Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan does not dismiss the possibility of Sabah-based Barisan Nasional (BN) parties following the lead of their Sarawak counterparts by exiting the BN and setting up their own coalition.
Rahman said the decision of the Sarawak BN parties to quit the national coalition did not come as a surprise after the heavy defeat suffered by BN in the May 9 polls.
"This scenario is expected in the new political landscape as the parties wish to pursue their individual state rights," he said.
Several Sabah BN component parties had already quit the coalition within days of the general election.
All four parties in the Sarawak BN – PBB, SUPP, PRS and PDP – announced they had pulled out to form the state-based Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) pact.
Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg told a news conference in Kuching that GPS would work with Putrajaya "in the interest of the nation and state rights" based on the Federal Constitution, the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the principles of federalism.
Rahman said the national political landscape had changed after the defeat of BN and this would lead to realignment of parties.
"Sarawak has made its decision based on local parties. If Sabah parties think the same way, maybe we will see a pan-Borneo pact bringing together Sabah and Sarawak," he said.
He said the Umno grassroots did not need to worry about the current developments as the party is still the strongest in Parliament commanding 54 seats.
"Even in Sabah, I believe there are still many keen to continue the struggle under Umno.
"Umno need to stay strong and defend the party, and not be distracted by other matters," he said.
Meanwhile, Umno supreme council member Bung Moktar Radin said the decision of the Sarawak parties to leave BN would definitely affect the revival of the party.
"We recognise the situation Umno is in now and we can see not many want to stick with us.
"We must find new strength because if we are strong, we will be respected.
If we are weak, we will be abandoned," he said.
According to Sabah Star President Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, Sarawak's decision to form the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) shares the same objectives as the Gabungan Bersatu Sabah.
Both are not aligned with BN and formed to protect state's interest as stipulated under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
"It's a good plan. We can form a Borneo Bloc now. It's much easier to talk when there are no longer reason to check with the peninsular counterparts each time when making decisions.
"We had a meeting and Gabungan Bersatu Sabah plans to meet up with the GPS parties after the Hari Raya holidays," he said.
"I believe they (the Sarawak leaders) will talk to us despite the ongoing court challenge over who are the legitimate chief minister and the right to form the Sabah government," Jeffrey said in reference to the ongoing court challenge over the legitimacy of the present Warisan-led government.