Upko Kennedy John said Sabah Umno Liaison Chief Hajiji Haji Noor should not twist Upko President Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau’s words on why Upko ran away from Umno.
Kennedy said: “Tangau said Upko severed ties with Umno because the party do not want to be in Umno’s grip anymore and that the party is now in a comfortable zone as we are no longer bullied. He also said that Upko wants to follow the Sabah culture and there is no need for Malaya culture in Sabah, like in Sarawak.
“Yes, the new State Government was formed by Parti Warisan Sabah with the help of Upko and two other so-called “Malaya-based” parties, PKR and DAP, but this is different.
“Warisan is a Sabah-based party who is leading the State Government with its President Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal as the Chief Minister unlike before where the Chief Minister was from Umno and controlled by Putrajaya.
“Umno has being lording over Sabah for more than 20 years and the rakyat, including Upko, feel suffocated by Umno’s style of politics where their culture of imposing their will on Sabahans are well known,” said Kennedy.
He said although PKR and DAP are part of the new State Government, the arrangements were different compared to BN’s rule.
“PKR and DAP leaders in “Malaya” let their local-born leaders here decide what is best for the State and do not interfere, unlike before when Umno was ruling, where their “Malaya” masters were calling the shots.
“Local Umno leaders, in order to tighten their own positions, feared of offending their “Malaya” masters and did not dare utter a word on actions and policies which caused hardship to Sabahans, such as the GST and Tourism Tax, among many others.
“Umno’s excesses were also well-known and Sabahans felt suffocated that the Umno Sabah leadership was not looking after their interest but instead that of their political masters in Putrajaya,” he said.
Kennedy said the Warisan-DAP-PKR-Upko State Government has given new hope to the people where “we will decide what is best for the people without the dominant Umno lording over the running of the State.”
He said Upko had before deliberated many times, even as far as a few years back, about leaving BN to get away from Umno but the Supreme Council could not come to an unanimous decision.
“But the chance came when the GE14 results were announced. When the Upko Supreme Council met, it was decided that the time was right to dump BN, especially Umno.
“Upko only enters into discussions with Warisan after the Supreme Council decided to quit BN. So, for Hajiji and others to insinuate that Upko left for positions and personal glory is an afterthought,” he said.
Kennedy said Upko has no regret running away from Umno’s grip.
“Upko is very comfortable with the working environment under Shafie where Upko’s views and opinions, especially those involving the people, are taken seriously without the need to refer to Putrajaya anymore,” he said.
Kennedy said the planned move by Umno Sabah, Star and PBS, among others to re-brand themselves under a new coalition Gabungan Bersatu Sabah (GBS) showed that the Umno and BN brand has passed its sell-by date.
“The move will spell the end for BN in Sabah. It shows Upko made the right decision and we should not be criticised just because we left earlier,” he said.