Sabah BN struggling to regain initiative
As published HEREhttp://www.freemalaysiatoday.com
As an opposition candidate, defector Wilfred Bumburing will have the support of two former Tuaran MPs to woo voters making him a formidable candidate.
KOTA KINABALU: If there was one thing that MP Wilfred Bumburing did for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition when he defected to the opposition in July, it was to force the disparate BN branch in Tuaran to unite.With the opposition in the state, seen by the BN as their ‘fixed deposit’, gaining ground, the parliamentary constituency of Tuaran has always been shaky as could be seen by the surge in support for the opposition in the last election.
There has always been a fear within the ruling coalition that the defection of top Sabah BN leaders to the opposition would have a domino effect around the state.
The exit in quick succession from the BN by MPs from Tuaran (Bumburing) and Beaufort (Lajim Ukin) as well as a Senator (Maijol Mahap) and a host of senior political leaders once aligned to Sabah Umno has caused the once mighty coalition to pause.
In Tuaran, the initial shock and constant quarelling resulting from the departure of former Upko deputy president Bumburing who is also its BN chairman, seems to ended for the moment.
Bumburing had cited disillusionment with the BN’s inability to resolve the longstanding question of how hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants had been registered as voters and were now determining the future of the state as among his reasons for leaving.
Several senior leaders of Upko joined him in forming a new party, Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS), to work with the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition in the coming election.
According to sources, Pakatan leader Anwar Ibrahim has given Bumburing an assurance that he would have a say on the candidates to contest in constituencies where the Kadazandusuns are the majority.
Bumburing, who won the Tuaran MP seat in the 2008 election, is expected to defend his seat against the potential BN candidate, his former colleague Wilfred Tangau, the Upko secretary general who made way for him in the 2008 election.
Tuaran comprises the state seats of Kiulu and Tamparuli now held by PBS and Sulaman by Umno.
Once considered a BN stronghold, it is now a toss up. Tangau won the seat in the 2004 election when he polled 17,722 votes against PKR’s Ansari Abdullah who garnered 8,555 votes.
The BN saw its winning margin drop significantly in 2008 when Bumburing polled 17,645 votes to Ansari’s 11,023 votes. Independent Ajin Hazin Gagah managed 879 votes.
As an opposition candidate, Bumburing will have the support of two former Tuaran MPs, Kalakau Untol and Monggoh Orow to woo voters making him a formidable candidate if he gets the whole-hearted support of PKR supporters who voted for Ansari.
Tangau and BN are banking on disunity in the opposition rather than serious policy issues to wrest the seat from Bumburing.
Tangau has already gone on the attack by mocking Pakatan as a coalition whose only common aim is to topple the BN government while its three main component parties, PAS, DAP and PKR have divergent views on government.
After the departure of Bumburing, Upko’s Tuaran branch has been in disarray and Tangau is depending on untested new leaders to fill in the void created by those who left the party.
Tuaran in the West Coast division is well-known for its old world charm and tourist attractions such as the Mengkabong Bajau Water Village.
The district is 1,166 square kilometres and the 2010 census puts its population at 105,435. About half the population is Dusun, a third Bajau and the remaining Chinese and others.