Tuesday, April 10, 2001
SANDAKAN: Sabah Finance Minister Datuk Musa Aman and his running mates made a sweep of the Libaran Umno division here, wiping out state assembly Speaker Datuk Hassan Alban Sandukong and his team.
Musa trounced Hassan by over 330 votes to retain the chairman's post which he has held since Umno spread its wings to Sabah in 1991.
"I thank Allah for giving me this victory. The results show that the members in Libaran are not divided as all my men have won. It shows that only a small group of people made it look like we were divided.
"The people of Libaran are with me as they have always been and they have no doubt that I have their interest at heart,'' said Musa, a native of the west coast Beaufort town, who was labelled an outsider during the intense campaign in this semi-urban east coast Sabah division.
Musa polled 576 of the 838 ballots cast while Hassan managed to get 240 votes in the contest which turned into a brawl at last week's Wanita meeting.
The division elections were also nearly stopped after rival groups tried to force a postponement and insisted that all ballot papers were signed by the candidates.
Musa said his priority was to bring back unity in the division and work with all the members.
In the contest, Musa's allies Libaran MP Juslie Ajirol easily beat a last-minute challenge by former parliamentarian Akbarkhan Abdul Rahman to keep the deputy chairman's post by a 300-vote margin.
The division's information chief Samsuddin Yahya, who was in the Musa camp toppled incumbent vice-chairman Datuk Nahalan Damsal, a state assistant minister aligned to Hassan.
The 20 division committee posts and seven delegates were also won by the Musa camp.
Hassan and his team left the meeting hall of the Sandakan Community Centre 15 minutes before the official result were announced at 1am.
"I will accept the verdict,'' said Hassan as he left the centre, adding that he would need three days before making a statement.
As indications of the results outcome started to emerge, police personnel took up positions outside the community centre where supporters waited.
However, supporters from both camps left peacefully by 2am ending the year-long battle for Libaran Umno which was rife with allegations and counter allegations ranging from money politics, cheating and questionable nominations at branch meetings.
At least 30 police reports were lodged and dozens of complaints made to the special Sabah Umno division election monitoring committee since the branch elections started in March.
After a nearly two-hour standoff between rival supporters at Sunday's meeting, it proceeded peacefully with no further incident with state Umno representatives Datuk Rizalman Abdullah and Ronald Kiandee ensuring the voting process and count was done in open view.