The controversial veteran politician, Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh, is playing his old tricks again. Gaphur is presently the Kalabakan UMNO pro-tem Chief. He was Minister of Chief Minister's Department during Datuk Chong Kah Kiat time and Deputy Chief Minister cum Finance Minister during Datuk Yong Teck Lee's time.
Suprisingly, both Chinese Chief Ministers of Sabah prefer Ghapur to be in their cabinets while his UMNO collegues would rather have him frozen. He was dropped when Datuk Seri Musa Aman took over as Chief Minister from Chong.
It wasn't new for Ghapur to go in and out of Sabah political mainstream. His controversial and arrogant attitude made him difficult to work with for a lot of politicians both from his own UMNO and other Barisan Nasional component parties. He was said to have loggerhead with Datuk Musa and trying his best to undermine Musa's man, Datuk Tawfiq who is now the Tawau pro-tem chief.
During the last state election in 1999, Ghapur has openly called for the Parliamentary of Tawau seat be given to the Malay instead of Chinese. These has angered the Chinese community in Tawau. He later admitted that he did that to please his Malay supporters.
Ghapur was initially dropped as a candidate for the last election but pushed his way through by going ahead with huge posters before the nomination day. He also invited federal ministers to his house for ceramah sessions, which to the public means endorsement from the ministers.
UMNO leadership finally bowed to Ghapur's demand and made him a candidate for Kalabakan instead of Merotai state constituency. Merotai was given to Dr Patawari (now Datuk), a new comer. However, it wasn't a smooth sailing for Patawari as Ghapur kept pulling his legs from time to time.
After the re-delineation of boundary, Ghapur was made the Kalabakan pro-tem head. Patawari, who still heads Merotai, was only made a vice chairman. Ghapur also demoted his long-time partner Samsul Alang from deputy to treasurer. Samsul was said to have helped Ghapur securing the Malay votes who are mostly Bugis. Ghapur is an Arabian.
It was rumoured that Ghapur will again be left out in the coming election. Musa is in favour of new blood. However, once again, Ghapur is pushing his way for his political survivor. He has started his ceramah at his house and printed his posters. He called newsmen to show off his election operation room which is well equiped with computers. He talks as if he is the confirmed candidate while others are not. He even warned others not to betray the BN if they are not selected as candidates.
Will Pak Lah, like Mahathir give in to Ghapur's demand this time?