By : QUEVILLE TO
KOTA KINABALU : It remains a case of who will blink first – Sabah Progressive Party supremo Yong Teck Lee or Pakatan Rakyat leader Anwar Ibrahim – as the clock winds down to nomination day next weekend ahead of the 13th general election on May 5.
If what SAPP’s Yong said on Saturday was the final word, then the chances for a less congested field of contestants lining up to take on the heavyweight Barisan Nasional is as far off as it has always been despite Anwar’s surprise offer on Friday.
SAPP will not back down on its stand that the national opposition coalition focus on contesting parliamentary seats in Sabah leaving the state seats to local parties allowing them a chance to form the next state government without interference from peninsula-controlled parties.
“Please honour the principle that Pakatan parties contest more of the parliamentary seats and let Sabah parties contest a majority of Sabah state seats,” said the SAPP leader a day after Anwar reopened the door to the local party to join the opposition coalition.
Yong said that SAPP had already said it would not contest for the Sandakan parliamentary seat and that it would only bid to retain its two incumbent state seats at Tanjung Papat and Elopura within the Sandakan parliamentary constituency.
“This would let DAP have an easy win at Sandakan (MP). Regrettably, even this perfect formula has been rejected by DAP which wants to contest the state seats as well,” he said.
Yong also said that the party would stick by its promise made in January 2012 not to contest the Penampang parliamentary seat.
“This means SAPP has given Pakatan a free hand to win the two MP seats. Actually, SAPP could also contest these two MP seats at no extra costs and effort because SAPP would be contesting the state seats within these two MP areas. Yet DAP and PKR insist to contest all the state seats in Sabah, plus the MP seats,” he said.
“DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang has already admitted that Pakatan cannot win Sabah. So why does Pakatan still want to be a spoiler?” he added.
Yong further noted that SAPP had since last year declared that it would support PKR in Labuan.
“Look at Johor, Sarawak, Penang, Perak and other states. Please do not put the blame on SAPP for your troubles,” he said.
Yong also stressed that SAPP had never said it was going to face BN alone.
“It was PPPS’s Lajim Okin, APS’s Wilfred Bumburing and PKR’s Azmin Ali who said that Pakatan had closed its doors to SAPP. But SAPP still keeps our doors are wide open to let PKR have a straight fight with BN in most of the MP seats,” he said.
Will back Anwar as PM
He said SAPP respects Pakatan’s core principle that seats which were won by a party at the previous election should be re-contested by the same party.
He said it was on this same principle that SAPP offered to stay out of Kota Kinabalu MP seat if Pakatan stayed out of Luyang and Likas state seats and Pakatan should not contest the Sepanggar MP seat held by its deputy president Eric Majimbun.
“As for the Tawau MP seat (held by SAPP’s Chua Soon Bui), the best formula is for SAPP to retain the MP seats while DAP goes back to their Sri Tanjong state seat.
“But, since Pakatan has to find a place for their Chan Foong Hin (DAP) and Kong Hon Ming (PKR), on top of keeping incumbent Jimmy Wong Sze Phin, Pakatan has declared it will contest both the Tawau MP seat and Sri Tanjong state seat. This is the problem caused by Pakatan parties, especially DAP in Sabah,” he said.
Yong further said even though Pakatan has declared that it would go it alone in next month’s election, SAPP still maintains its promise to support Anwar to be the next PM even while PAS keeps it option open on the matter.
“This truly shows SAPP is a party which keeps its promises when Pakatan has broken the negotiations and promises. This shows that SAPP is a party that can be trusted and it will certainly fulfil its pledges contained in its manifesto if SAPP is given a chance to form the next state government,” he said.
Yong has been persistent about reclaiming Sabah’s autonomous powers in order to ensure the state’s natural wealth is not siphoned off by the federal government at the expense of Sabahans.
“Autonomy will enable the Sabah state government to negotiate future dealings on equal footing with the federal government and we can also control the influx of immigrants properly, allowing only qualified foreigners to settle in Sabah.
“When Sabah regains its full autonomy and the terms and conditions within the Malaysian Agreement are truly implemented and honoured, then the claim of Sabah by the Sulu Sultanate will be discouraged and abandoned eventually,” he said.
Anwar on Friday told reporters at a press conference held at the residence of Pertubuhan Pakatan Perubahan Sabah (PPPS) leader Lajim Ukin that Pakatan leaders in Sabah had been urged to continue negotiation on seats allocations with SAPP.
He this was a cordial gesture was in view of the fact that SAPP supports Pakatan’s policy and leadership.