Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah (Gagasan), the new lynchpin party of the ruling coalition in Sabah, invited four former chief ministers of the state to its inaugural annual congress today, in an apparent bid to broadcast its influence as a political power here.
The former CMs include Tan Sri Musa Aman, the chief minister from 2003 to 2018; Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan (1985 to 1994); Datuk Seri Osu Sukam (1999 to 2001) ;and Datuk Yong Teck Lee (1996 to 1998).
The Gagasan congress was the first held since it came into power with Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor taking over its helm.
“I can’t interpret it like that, but I feel that’s how it is… They came to give moral support to me and to our congress,” said Hajiji when asked whether their presence was a sign of their support or endorsement of his party.
“I invited all of our previous chief ministers to our congress, although some are no longer active in politics, and some are not in Sabah. We have to give them respect, by inviting them to come to these meetings.
“They came so we can show them some appreciation, get their advice and observation on the struggle today,” he said.
In the quartet, Yong, who is Sabah Progressive Party president, is still active in the current government. Kitingan is semi-retired but has been showing support at Parti Bersatu Sabah’s gatherings, Osu is retired, while Musa has been rumoured to be making a political come back since his unceremonious exit following the 2018 post GE14 election change of government.
Gagasan rose to prominence earlier this year after state leaders from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia left en masse to support the Pakatan Harapan after GE15 and join the unity government formed under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The party is now among the components of the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah state government along with PH, PBS, SAPP, and United Sabah National Organisation (Usno).
Also in attendance today were suspended Umno MP Datuk Shahelmy Yahya and suspended Bersatu MP Datuk Suhaili Abdul Rahman. Both were suspended by their parties by pledging support to Hajiji against their party’s stand.
The congress was attended by thousands of people at the Sabah International Convention Centre.
Attempts to seek Musa’s confirmation that he was planning a comeback were unsuccessful as he declined to comment.
He was left out of the state election line-up in 2020 when Umno eventually wrestled the state back from Warisan, and was sidelined again when the party named its candidates for the general election last November.