KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — Sabah, one of two East Malaysian states, is bound for a snap election following what appears to be a thwarted attempt of a coup by former Chief Minister Musa Aman at the eleventh hour.
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition on Thursday (30 July) in a statement condemned the “traitorous” and “immoral” move by Musa and other top leaders of the Perikatan Nasional alliance in “buying over” the support of representatives.
“Only the people [of Sabah] can defeat the evil coup launched by former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman, who has the full support of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin.
“Pakatan Harapan strongly condemns the traitorous political move launched by Tan Sri Musa Aman, the Prime Minister, the Home Affairs Minister and Perikatan Nasional, as well as the RM32 million offer for each [representative], along with offering the post of Deputy Chief Minister,” the statement read.
The statement — issued by Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Anwar Ibrahim, National Trust Party (AMANAH) founder Mohamad Sabu, and Democratic Action Party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng — also criticised the “irresponsible” action of attempting to seize power during the COVID-19 crisis.
The coalition also expressed its full support of Chief Minister Shafie Apdal, a founding member of the Sabah Heritage Party (WARISAN). WARISAN is an allied party of PH.
Musa yesterday claimed that he had secured a simple majority to form a new multi-party government for Sabah.
He added that he would be leading several Sabah State Assemblymen to have an audience with Yang Dipertua Negeri — Sabah’s ceremonial head of state — Tun Juhar Mahiruddin at Istana Negeri.
His Excellency Tun Juhar has, instead, consented to the dissolution of the state assembly after Shafie had met with the Sabah governor this morning.
The Sabah State Legislative Assembly has 65 representatives, including five nominated representatives.
Currently, the Sabah State Government has 45 seats while the opposition holds 20. Musa is the sole Umno representative in Sabah’s State Assembly.
For Musa to have a simple majority, he would require 33 seats.
The Straits Times last week reported sources as saying that at least 14 assemblymen have agreed to desert Shafie — one of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s staunchest political allies — in favour of Musa.
Last month, Musa was acquitted and discharged of all 46 criminal charges — involving corruption and money laundering — made against him in connection to timber concessions contracts in Sabah after the prosecution decided to drop all such charges against him.
Musa was accused of abusing his position during his tenure as Sabah chief minister and the chairman of Sabah Foundation Board of Trustees chairman by allegedly receiving US$50.1 million from eight logging concessionaires in exchange for approval of logging concessions to 16 companies.
PH’s governance came to an abrupt stop when events following the “Sheraton Move” earlier this year saw Dr Mahathir’s then-right-hand man Muhyiddin taking the mantle of Prime Minister, following a power vacuum left by the former’s resignation from the post.
The PH coalition had earlier wrested power from Najib Razak’s Barisan Nasional (BN) alliance in 2018. BN governed Malaysia for 61 years since the nation’s independence prior to the 2018 general election.
The political crisis saw certain factions in the Malay-centric Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and the PKR parties purportedly attempting to form an alliance with Umno and other parties in a bid to establish a new government.
PKR cadres Azmin Ali and Zuraida Kamaruddin were sacked from the party for “betraying” the party, Malay Mail reported in February.