KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 — Tuaran MP Datuk Seri Wilfred Bumburing announced today he is quitting the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and pledged to aid the rival Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact in the run-up to key national poll due soon.
The former Sabah chief minister said he would kick off a state-wide tour in support of the federal opposition ahead of the 13th general elections, speculated will be called this year.
He cited the widespread influx of illegal immigrants into the eastern state and Putrajaya’s oversight on this issue as among the chief reasons prompting his exit.
“This is the mother of all problems in Sabah,” Bumburing (picture) said in a delayed video broadcast on the UStream TV Merdeka Rakyat website.
The deputy president of the BN component party, United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation’s (UPKO), was speaking at the launch of Angkatan Perubahan Sabah, a new political entity aligned to PR in Tuaran, on the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu earlier today
Bumburing pointed out that Sabah had seen an increase in illegal immigrants of 390 per cent, a rate that far surpasses neighbouring state Sarawak’s 146 per cent as well as the national rate.
“BN’s policy towards illegal immigrants is very dangerous because of (illegal immigrants committing) crime, making it difficult for citizens to get job opportunities, and threatening national security”.
“During Dr M’s (Mahathir) time, (there was a) policy to simply give identity cards to illegal immigrants, to foreigners,” said Bumburing, referring to allegations where BN had granted citizenship to illegal immigrants in exchange for votes.
“During the Parliament session, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that he will set up a royal commission about this illegal immigrant issue, but he’s been to Sabah three times already, but there were no announcements when he was in Sabah.”
“And these more than 250,000 illegal immigrants come voting under the guise of being a Sabah native such as Kadazan, Dusun, Murut, Bajau and so on,” he said.
His APS movement was earlier reported to be dominated by those from the Kadazan, Dusun and Murut communities.
He also said that the Sabah government’s approach had caused residents to be like refugees in their own state.
“When the people apply for land titles, the state government doesn’t give (them), but sends bulldozers to knock down houses,” said Bumburing, alluding to the native land rights’ issue in the state.
Also present was PKR’s de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Anwar praised Bumburing for being brave and willing to let go of a comfortable life for the sake of Sabahans.
“I have previously said there will be a surprise from Sabah. But the surprise that I meant is not just Wilfred Bumburing or Lajim Ukin, the real surprise comes from Sabahans themselves,” he said after a warm reception by the Kadazan, Dusun and Murut communities in Tuaran today.
In Sabah, the deep-seated issue of illegal immigrants will likely be used as a key campaign issue in the coming polls, with the Najib administration holding the trump card for having finally agreed to investigate the issue by forming a royal commission of inquiry.
Federal seats in east Malaysia’s Sabah and Sarawak are expected to be PR’s focal point when the elections take place, as both states, including the federal territory of Labuan, make up a whopping 57 seats, or 25 per cent of the 222 parliamentary seats available.
In Election 2008, BN retained power over the Putrajaya administrative capital largely due to wins in east Malaysia and Labuan, where it made a near-clean sweep, winning 55 seats against PR’s two.
But the ruling pact lost its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority after only securing a five-seat margin ahead of PR in the peninsula, winning in just 85 constituencies while PR secured 80 seats.