UMNO’S number two Ahmad Zahid Hamidi slammed rising regionalism in East Malaysia, saying that such sentiments were a serious crime that can be severely punished.
His warning comes as Umno, which holds 13 parliamentary seats in Sabah, faces a fierce local opposition that is dipping into a surge of regionalism expressed through the motto “Sabah for Sabahans”.
“The action of those who seditiously incite the people with slogans of ‘Sabah for Sabahans and Sarawak for Sarawakians’ is against the Federal Constitution.
“They are playing with fire that may lead to anarchy and instability,” Zahid, a party vice-president acting as deputy president, said in his speech to launch the assemblies of the Umno’s Youth, Wanita and Puteri wings tonight.
A growing sense of regionalism in East Malaysia has led to speculation that Sabahans will choose Sabah-based political parties such as Parti Warisan Sabah and others in the United Sabah Alliance over national organisations such as Umno, DAP and PKR, in GE14.
This regionalism is fuelled by the belief that promises made to Sabah and Sarawak in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 have not been fulfilled by the federal government.
In the Sarawak elections last year, the “Sarawak for Sarawakians” sentiment helped local parties in Sarawak Barisan Nasional to regain state assembly seats it lost to Peninsula-based opposition parties in 2011.
In his speech tonight, Zahid warned that it was a serious crime to spread such sentiments.
“Nobody is above the law. This subversive action takes place when there are leaders who are trapped in the ploy of political masterminds who are bankrupt of ideas and soul.
“Because of their political lust and greed, (in) serving these puppeteers, they are willing to be pawns on a chessboard.