Sabah lawmaker Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin announced today that he is setting up his own political party, right after declaring his exit from PKR.
The former Sabah PKR chief said his party is multiracial and will join the growing number of other local-based Opposition parties to fight for Sabah rights.
“We registered the party with the Registrar of Societies on September 19. We are hoping that they will approve it, there shouldn’t be a problem,” he told a news conference at the Hotel Yaho in Sembulan this afternoon.
The Klias assemblyman hoped to find out the outcome within the next 21 days.
He declined to furnish further details, including the party name, saying only that he is answering the needs of the people by forming his own party but would respect other Opposition parties.
Lajim claimed to have the backing of 70 per cent of PKR’s grassroots leadership or some 35 people, including 11 division leaders.
“We are expecting more grassroots to join us, but this will come later,” he said.
The veteran politician who was for a long time with Umno before crossing over to PKR in July 2012 was unperturbed by the recent spurt of new Sabah-based political parties and did not see them as jeopardising his party’s chance at the next elections.
“The more the merrier,” he said.
“What’s important is the strength of a party’s support, and not just its backers. People want a party they can depend on,” he added.
He said he was working on forging new alliances with other local Opposition parties to best the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and reinstate Sabah rights — a common interest that has been touted by Semporna MP and former Umno vice-president Datuk Shafie Apdal who has also registered his own new party.
“What is important is that we don’t want to clash and compete with other leaders in running for the same seats. We can negotiate better with local parties than we can with national parties,” he said, referring to the larger Opposition parties like the one he just exited.
“One thing to consider is the party’s stronghold — Shafie will do best in the east coast, for instance,” he added.
Lajim was among three Sabah elected representatives who quit their Pakatan Harapan parties today, the other two being Moyog assemblyman Terrence Siambun from PKR and Likas assemblyman Junz Wong from DAP.
Siambun indicated his next move is joining Shafie and Penampang MP Darell Leiking in their rebranded party while Wong said he is still undecided.