KOTA KINABALU: Speculation is mounting that further defections might take place from Warisan after one of its assemblyman quit the party and pledged support for the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) government yesterday.

Party sources said there are rumours some more are contemplating following in the footsteps of Sebatik assemblyman Hassan A Gani Pg Amir, who declared himself an independent but is backing GRS.

A source said Hassan’s departure caught Warisan by surprise as he was not among those rumoured to switch allegiance.

“Anything is possible now after he defected but we’ll see if that happens because many are still loyal to party president Shafie Apdal,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

Hassan A Gani Pg Amir.

The source also said the timing of the defection was odd as there was no indication of any assemblyman wanting to cross over, considering the uncertain political situation in the country presently.

“Who knows, perhaps this is a sign of things to come with speculation over a snap general election soon,” the source added.

Political analyst Tony Paridi Bagang said looking at the trend of party hopping in Sabah previously, there is evidence to believe more elected representatives will be making the switch.

“The same excuses are given, such as wanting to be aligned to the government of the day, loss of trust in their current party and wanting to prioritise development for their constituents.

“Whatever the reasons, this indicates that political realignment will continue to happen as long as an anti-hopping law is not enforced,” he told FMT.

According to Bernama, Hassan decided to leave Warisan because the party was focused more on politicking, instead of the people’s well-being. He also said he was throwing his support behind Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Hassan said he was saddened that Warisan had prioritised politics over the welfare of the people, who were struggling to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

His decision to side with GRS means the coalition, which comprises Perikatan Nasional (PN), Barisan Nasional (BN) and PBS, now has the backing of 48 of the 79 assemblymen in the state.

Hassan defeated closest contender Muis Picho from PN in a seven-way battle for the Sebatik seat with a 522-majority after garnering 2,665 votes in the Sabah election last year.

Meanwhile, GRS deputy chairman Bung Moktar Radin and information chief Joniston Bangkuai were not totally surprised with Hassan’s decision.

Bung, who is also the Sabah BN and Umno chief, and Bangkuai, the PBS secretary-general, however said they were not aware if more defections will occur.

Bung said he had “heard rumours” that Hassan was thinking of joining the coalition after the state election.

“But we have not made any contact with him. I believe his decision to leave Warisan was not due to anyone asking him to do so but down to him losing conviction in the party’s struggles.

“I welcome his decision to support GRS. Sabah Umno is also always open to any assemblyman, MP or anyone to join our party,” he said.

Bangkuai said Hassan “might have seen something he liked” about the GRS administration that pushed him to quit Warisan.

The Kiulu assemblyman said opposition assemblymen had praised chief minister Hajiji Noor for granting a special RM100,000 allocation for each of the 31 opposition members to help their constituents in light of the pandemic.

“I had no idea he would defect but it did not come to me as a total surprise.

“We now have a government that wants to be fair to all. Many of the opposition figures said ‘thank you’ to the CM (for the special allocation) … maybe that motivated him to rethink his political alignment,” he said.

Bangkuai is unaware if any more opposition assemblymen will support GRS but has no problem welcoming “new friends” to the coalition.

“Why not? Maybe it’s better for all of us to come together and make sure we have a strong government to bring changes for Sabah’s betterment,” he said. -- Free Malaysia Today