KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) said the door for discussion on state-federal seats ratio with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is still open.
SAPP Youth chief Edward Dagul said his party supported president Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee’s stand that Sabah-based parties must contest the majority of seats in the state legislative assembly to put an end to the state being a puppet administration.
He said it is in line with SAPP’s struggle to form a state government with autonomy as enshrined in the 1963 Malaysia Agreement.
“SAPP is willing to relent to PR contesting a majority of the state’s parliamentary seats, allowing the federal opposition pact a better chance to claim power in Putrajaya.
“However, administrative power over the state must stay in the hands of parties with roots in Sabah,” he said.
On reports that seat talks between SAPP and PR have come to temporary halt according to PR ally Datuk Seri Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing, Dagul said: “Our party was waiting for PR to decide on its own seat sharing formula among its three parties, Bumburing’s Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS) and Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin’s Pertubuhan Pakatan Perubahan Sabah (PPPS).”
“The door for discussion is still open. It could be that Bumburing’s now locked inside PR and the key is outside,” added Dagul.
He said SAPP had repeatedly stated that the coming 13th General Election is about restoring the autonomy of Sabah as well as Sarawak as promised in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the spirit of the formation of Malaysia.
Dagul also said that Pakatan’s Kuching Declaration that says Sabah and Sarawak have equal status as Malaya is relevant.
Key among the seven-point declaration was a pledge to restore the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement and the position of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners within Malaysia, “by restoring autonomy to Sarawak and Sabah within the framework of the Federal Constitution”.
“Consistent with these promises and principles, local parties should contest a majority of state assembly seats,” he pointed out.
Both Bumburing and Lajim were former strongmen in Sabah BN but left their respective parties UPKO and Umno last year to form the two PR-friendly political NGOs.
“SAPP is waiting for PR or PKR to make their formula official and to announce it because we are accountable not only to our parties but also to the rakyat.
“We would also like to know the formula for Sarawak and for Malaya as well,” he added.
Dagul added that prior to forming APS, Bumburing was chairman of Amanah Sabah, an NGO headed by Gua Musang member of parliament Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
He said the official launching of Amanah Sabah was also attended by Datuk Ong Tee Keat, Datu Amir Kahar Tun Mustapha (deputy president), Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (vice president) and Mohd Lukhman Ghani (vice president).
Veteran politicians like former Chief Minister Datuk Osu Sukam, Lajim, Datuk Maijol Mahap and Datuk John Ghani were also linked to Amanah.
Yong has insisted to PR that Sabah-based parties must contest the majority of seats in the state legislative assembly, saying this was in keeping with the Borneo state’s right to autonomy as enshrined in the 1963 Malaysia Agreement.
The SAPP president said his party was willing to relent to PR contesting a majority of the state’s federal seats, allowing the federal opposition pact its dream to claim power in Putrajaya.
But administrative power over the state must stay in the hands of parties with roots in Sabah, the former Sabah chief minister insisted, saying that to achieve this, the state-federal seat ratio should follow his party’s formula.
There are 60 state and 25 federal seats in the east Malaysian state of Sabah, often referred to as Barisan Nasional’s (BN) “fixed deposit” together with neighbouring Sarawak.
“We have stated that this GE13 is about restoring the autonomy of Sabah (and Sarawak) as promised in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the spirit of the formation of Malaysia.
“The Kuching Declaration that says that Sabah, Sarawak have equal status as Malaya is relevant,” Yong was reported to have said.
He said they are waiting for PR or PKR to make their formula official and to announce it because “we are accountable not only to our parties but also to the rakyat”.
“We would also like to know the formula for Sarawak and for Malaya,” Yong said.
He also refused to reveal the number of seats that SAPP would be willing to concede to PR, only saying, “This depends on the formula of PR.”
Yong would also not confirm or deny the possibility of his party standing against PR’s candidates or collaborating with Jeffrey’s STAR for the coming contest.
“Answers depend on the outcome of PR’s formula. Thank you,” he said.
Should Yong’s SAPP contest against PR, it would be the second time since 2008 that both sides entered a collision course on seat talks.
In November 2010, Yong stood in a three-cornered fight against PKR’s Ansari Abdullah and BN’s Datin Linda Yong Tsen Lin for the Batu Sapi by-election contest.
But Yong, despite his campaign plea urging Sabahans to root for a local party, emerged third in the contest.