KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s trip to Sabah is not to intervene in any political turmoil within the state Umno as has been widely reported, political secretary Jamal Nerubi said.
Instead, Zahid is going there as an invited guest of United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko) president Datuk Ewon Benedick for a Christmas open house, news portal Free Malaysia Today reported Jamal as saying last night.
“We strongly deny this allegation (of a political crisis). This is an official working trip and this accusation is aimed at tarnishing the deputy prime minister’s name and causing disunity in Sabah Umno,” Jamal was quoted as saying.
Zahid had previously been reported by several news agencies, including state-owned Bernama as heading to Kota Kinabalu today to defuse growing political tension within Umno as he is its president.
This was pertaining to talk that Sabah Umno had teamed up with Opposition party Warisan to challenge the ruling Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) coalition in the state election that must be held by December 2025.
The purported tie-up was first made by Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal on December 14.
Shafie, a former Sabah chief minister, claimed that the state Umno chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin had agreed to their parties teaming up to take on GRS led by incumbent Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor in the next state election even though it was subsequently refuted by Sabah Umno deputy chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan.
The Sabah government currently comprises GRS with 42 seats and is backed by Pakatan Harapan coalition (with its seven seats) and the Umno-led Barisan Nasional coalition with its 13 seats.
Warisan has 14 seats in the Sabah legislative assembly.
However, Hajiji also hinted at dissolving the state assembly early next year to pave the way for a state election before the October expiry of his Sabah government.