Two assemblymen from the United Kinabalu Progressive Organisation (UPKO) aligned to the Sabah state government today declared they had quit the party with immediate effect.
Kuala Penyu assemblyman Datuk Limus Jury and Sugut assemblyman Datuk James Ratib announced that they are now independent elected representatives and support Perikatan Nasional (PN), which is in power at the federal level, for the sake of development in their constituencies.
They made the announcement at a press conference at the residence of Jury in Jalan Pintas, Penampang, in the presence of several of their supporters.
Reading from a prepared statement, they said they supported Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister and that there was no enticement from the PN government.
“It is imperative that the state government be aligned with the federal government in order for the state to develop as we are left behind and cannot develop without allocation and big projects from the federal government,” said Ratib.
Jury said he did not consult with Upko Beautfort division members but had spoken to a few leaders in the division.
“We decided it was better to follow the federal government than to be in the opposition,” he said.
Jury and Ratib, who are known to be allies of former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman said that they were still undecided about which party they will join eventually.
Ratib, a three-term assemblyman also said he would support Musa for the chief minister post again if the Sungai Sibuga assemblyman had the support of the majority.
Both had defected to the Warisan coalition post — GE14 to join the state government — Jury had followed the party decision, while Ratib, formerly from Umno, joined UPKO shortly after the Umno-led government fell.
Jury had been UPKO vice-president and had headed the UPKO Beaufort Division while Ratib had been a member of the UPKO Supreme Council.
The duo’s move today won’t affect Mohd Shafie Apdal’s grip on Sabah, which currently has a two-thirds or 45 out of the 65 assembly seats.
The acquittal of Musa from his court cases triggered chatter that he is trying to reclaim the chief ministership.
Musa became chief minister shortly after the last general election but quit following a series of defections, including Limus’ and James’ decision to join UPKO.
The pressure on Shafie continues following rumours that Umno assemblymen who left to join Bersatu are said to be returning to their old party.