Saturday, 6 April 2013



KOTA KINABALU: Amir Kahar Mustapha, an influential Sabah Umno leader, has thrown his hat into the ring of election contenders, though the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition has yet to make known its list of candidates.

The quiet Bajau-Suluk leader yesterday quit his post as Inspector-General of Projects, a state government appointment with ministerial status specially created for him but with little power.

The son of Sabah strongman and the state’s first Yang di-Pertua Negara Mustapha Harun, Amir Kahar was briefly a former deputy chief minister in the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) government which ruled from 1985 to 1994.

He was Banggi assemblyman for 22 years until he was dropped by Umno in 2008 and replaced with little known Mijul Unaini.

His decision does not come as a surprise though it now looks he may have to go against BN in the northern-most seat in Sabah either on an independent or opposition platform.

“I have sent my resignation letter to the Chief Minister’s Department,” he said without naming Chief Minister Musa Aman.

“I would be contesting in the coming election. I will make the announcement soon [under which party to contest]. I have decided to contest again after almost a five-year break because I believed I can still deliver and serve the people,” he was quoted by a local newspaper as saying today.

He was also in the news recently trying to seek a solution to the stand-off at Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu after a group of armed Filipinos invaded and took over the village, sparking a security crisis in the east coast of the state.

It is not known what made Amir Kahar decide to announce his own candidacy yesterday, but insiders had been claiming he is unhappy with Umno and its handling of Sabah issues lately.

He is rumoured to have held talks with Jeffrey Kitingan of the State Reform Party (STAR) only weeks ago, but his supporters also claim that he has also spoken to Pakatan Rakyat coalition member PKR.

If he decides to join the national opposition front it would be another blow for Jeffrey who has struggled to shore up his fledgling STAR, which in recent weeks had seen a drop in support in contrast with the now surging PKR.

The peninsula-based PKR is coming in strong ahead of the impending general election that many see as the possible end of the BN regime at the federal level.

The reluctance of local opposition or independent-leaning politicians to join fiercely “local” parties such as STAR and the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), which some see as practising provincial politics, is expected to force a change in the divide-and-rule election strategies successfully adopted by the BN in the past. (FMT)

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