Is the autonomy Sabah UMNO receiving on par with that of a local party?

Sabah UMNO, led by local Sabahans


KOTA KINABALU: Not many people know, especially the youth, that Sabah UMNO has been granted “autonomy” to determine the direction of the party’s struggle in this state.

In fact, when the UMNO constitution was amended during the 2019 UMNO General Conference (PAU 2019), Sabah UMNO’s history was symbolically etched in the national political arena.

According to Wikipedia, autonomy
can be defined as the ability of an organisation, institution, or person to make their own decisions.

Following the granting of autonomous powers, Sabah UMNO may now operate to some extent independently from the central UMNO.

Soon after the amendment was approved five years ago, Sabah UMNO Liaison Committee Chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin was quoted as saying that the transition cemented the existence of Sabah UMNO as an autonomous political entity because only Sabahans are more knowledgeable about problems and things that can be done in that state.

“Now we are given the authority or power to manage all matters. It is still ‘UMNO’ but we will localise it. For example, the selection of candidates, questions about leaders, and the number of seats we are contesting will be decided by Sabah UMNO itself,” Bung was quoted as saying.

However, political opponents, especially local parties, continue to play up this issue or creatively capitalise on the status of UMNO, the national party, as political bait to gain the support of the people, promoting instead the slogan “We want local parties to rule Sabah”.

Ironically, people may tend to forget or refuse to accept the reality that almost all leaders of the existing local parties in Sabah were “graduates” of either UMNO or Barisan Nasional (BN) institutions.

Unbeknownst to political opponents, the status of Sabah UMNO is now far different from the original UMNO because Sabah UMNO has been given autonomous powers.

Refuting the “perception” floated by the state-ruling local parties as if UMNO does not enjoy autonomy, Sabah UMNO Information Chief Datuk Suhaimi Nasir asserted that since UMNO entered Sabah in 1992, there has been no leader from the Peninsula in Sabah UMNO leadership.

Instead, he said, Sabah UMNO was given autonomous powers to administer matters related to party policy in Sabah.

“I am from Libaran, not Mersing, Johor..” So that means there is no issue with the local party. Certain people, netizens, are trying to manipulate this national party issue for political gains,” said Suhaimi recently.

Along with Bung and Suhaimi, Deputy Chairman of Sabah UMNO Liaison Committee Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Sabah UMNO Treasurer Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak, and Director of Sabah UMNO Elections Department Jeffrey Nor Mohamed are all local Sabahans.

Many people in Sabah are curious as to whether the water and electricity supply has improved or otherwise since GRS, a coalition of local parties, and PH came to power in the state?

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