Ewon Benedick is now officially Upko president

KOTA KINABALU: Upko vice-president Datuk Ewon Benedick officially took over the presidency after incumbent Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau stepped aside at the party’s triennial general meeting on Sunday (Jan 15).

Ewon, who became the third president of the party, took over the president’s duties from Madius during virtual streaming at the Sabah Cultural Centre in Penampang.

The 39-year-old Ewon, who is Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister, could not be present as he was attending the federal minister’s retreat with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at Seri Perdana, Putrajaya.

In apologising to the delegates for not being able to be physically present at the congress, Ewon said that he was following the congress and was aware of the issues raised and resolutions passed.

“I want to record our sincere appreciation to Madius for his consistency in his leadership in pushing Upko goals for Sabah.

“These included his push to ensure that issues of Sabah rights be included in the manifesto of Pakatan Harapan for the recent general election,” said Benedick, who is Penampang MP and Kadamaian assemblyman.

“I will move forward with the responsibility of pushing the promises made under the manifesto to the federal Cabinet,” he added.

Benedick also said that he will remain committed towards delivering the promises and also resolve issues of concerns raised by the delegates.

He said that under his leadership, his approach would be “common-sense leadership” and doing the right thing in the right way.

“Common sense leadership invites us to listen, see, feel, smell, analyse, think and feel all issues, challenges, opportunities and risks on each issue that is in front of us.

“Every decision made must be defensible based on the practice of upholding what is right, denying what is wrong and continuing what is appropriate,” he told delegates.

Tangau, the Tuaran MP, had allowed for a succession to take place in Upko in October last year when he agreed for Benedick to take over.

However, the party’s triennial meeting scheduled for November last year was postponed till Sunday as the general election was called.

Earlier, Madius officially opened the congress.

He told reporters that he will continue to serve the party in a smaller capacity.

“I can have more time in Tuaran as MP and divisional chief. At the same time, I will still play other roles as I am still very much part of Upko and the Pakatan presidential council,” said Tangau, who became Upko president in 2014, taking over from Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

The 65-year-old Tangau was a former federal minister (2015-2018) and a Sabah deputy chief minister (2018-20).

In 2018, he led Upko out of Barisan Nasional to team up with Warisan-Pakatan to form the state government.