KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Datuk Yong Teck Lee has ruled out the likelihood of his party seeking re-admittance to the Barisan Nasional, as suggested by his Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) counterpart, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.
He said he considered returning to BN a gross insult to Sabahans and said that it is PBS that should leave the BN "since they failed to fulfill their promise to solve the illegal immigrant issue by l2012."
On the other hand, he said SAPP left the comforts of being in the BN government and its leaders resigned their government posts and privileges in 2008 in order to fight for the autonomy for Sabah.
He said this is the window of opportunity that Sabah has but that the BN leaders, including Pairin, are not doing anything to reclaim Sabah's rights under the Malaysia Agreement and the 20 Points memorandum.
"SAPP left the BN on Sept. 17, 2008 with our eyes wide open that we will be in the opposition and will have to face the BN giant in the subsequent elections.
"The fight is not going to be easy but we shall fight on.
Under no circumstance will SAPP ever join BN before or after the general elections," he said.
Yong said people still remember that PBS had to crawl back to BN in 2001, apologise openly to then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed at the PBS congress and that Pairin even declared himself as a "secret admirer" of Mahathir.
"Never before have I ever witnessed such self-humiliation by a once great leader who succumbed to the temptations of power.
The great Pairin that we once knew in the 1980s is not the same Pairin we see today," he said.
Pairin had said that SAPP could still return to the ruling coalition's fold if it felt belittled by the opposition Pakatan Rakyat in the current seat discussions.
In response to Pakatan de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's challenge to "leaders of Sabah-based parties" to openly declare that none of them ever benefited through timber concessions, land and contracts", Yong said:
"I hereby declare that, just like Anwar, I did not acquire any land, not even an inch, or timber concessions or contracts for myself. To do so would have been a corrupt act.
"It is well known that upon the SAPP declaration of no-confidence in Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi as Prime Minister in June 2008, the MACC conducted thorough, detailed checks on my term in office and even publicly threatened other leaders that they would face the same fate if they were to follow SAPP's lead in opposing the then PM.
"I have no fear because I know that my record is clean," said Yong who was Chief Minister from May 28, 1996 to May 27, 1998.
Yong said federal leaders, including Anwar, should not use the excuse that just because some past State leaders had abused their powers, therefore Sabah cannot be trusted with autonomy.
In the same breath, the federal leaders and leaders of Malaya parties in Sabah have little to show in terms of good governance, he said.
"As Anwar would remember, during my entire two years as Chief Minister from May 28, 1996 to 1998, Anwar was the Deputy Prime Minister and for three months in mid-1997, was Acting Prime Minister.
If there had been such abuses, Anwar would have known. In fact, Anwar should pose the same challenge to the PKR and DAP Sabah leaders.
The same question should be posed to the DAP leaders in Perak Ngeh Koo Ham and Nga Kor Ming who reportedly acquired 25,000 acres of timber concession during their short term as members of the Perak State Government.
"On the other hand, in Sabah, it is a well documented fact that 48,000 native land applications were resolved and a record number of Native Title (NT) lands were issued during my term as Chief Minister.
"What is most memorable is the mid-1997 incident at a Sandakan Sabah Hotel meeting between Anwar who was acting PM then and the Sabah Cabinet and some federal ministers.
"Anwar had protested to me that the Sabah government approved land to the Sabah Chinese Assembly Hall at Karamunsing and a number of schools.
"Never once, was any incident of award of land to myself as Chief Minister or any other Cabinet member was raised because there was no such thing (abuse of power in awarding lands to leaders).
"It was the same dramatic incident that the issue of Federal Government trying to force the Sabah government to allow a federal gambling licence company to operate in Sabah.
"I proudly declare that Sabah stood our ground in rejecting a federal decision based on the right of the Sabah government to run our local government and to determine what businesses are allowed by our local respective authorities," he said.