KOTA KINABALU: Pakatan Rakyat may have officially excluded Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) from seat negotiations on Sabah’s opposition front, but Parti Keadilan Rakyat de factor leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would like to see SAPP participate in PR’s political fray.
“Whatever said and done, my sincere view is that I would like to see SAPP participate (in the seat negotiations) because to be fair to (SAPP president) Datuk Seri Panglima Yong Teck Lee, he has come up publicly not only supporting me but also the PR agenda.
“It makes a lot of sense and rationale of him being there. So, next would be how to negotiate and get the understanding. Unfortunately, it is a bit difficult and tedious. That is why I do not want to be seen as too hostile. There are some differences but does it support the agenda? Yes,” he said.
Anwar added that at least, for now, seat allocations were 90 per cent resolved.
He was commenting on PKR deputy president Azmin Ali’s recent comment that SAPP had officially been excluded from the seat negotiations, insisting the party’s demands were too unreasonable to accommodate.
Azmin also confirmed that PR and its new Sabah allies – Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS) and Pertubuhan Pakatan Perubahan Sabah (PPPS) – have nearly agreed on a seat-sharing formula.
Anwar told reporters here on Monday that during negotiations, PR was also not offered seats.
“They (PR allies) ask. It is called principles of seat negotiations. At this stage, you know, it is common knowledge, initially they (SAPP) ask for 40 and then 35 and later 30 seats, but I did not consider it. The request for 35 seats was the last.
“Kota Kinabalu and Inanam, you can decide where you are strong. Negotiations are very a tedious process and, that is, I do not get involved. I am tired, and I do not have the patience neither the stamina. So, I ask Azmin to do it.
“But most important, we want to win. For instance, if in Kelantan, Keadilan is very poor and no DAP there, PAS (Parti Islam seMalaysia) is strong, so, we concede. In Kelantan, we concede to PAS. In Selangor, more to Keadilan, in Penang more to DAP because we see not only from the racial profiling but in terms of strength and the machinery of the parties,” he said.
When asked whether Sabah opposition had reached an agreement especially on seats with SAPP and State Reform Party Sabah (Star Sabah), he said what was important is for PR and its allies to be able to compromise with one another.
“It is a bit in the advanced stage and I do not foresee easy resolution to this problem but I am of course in the interest of Pakatan Rakyat change, then we would want to see a compromise, if they can. I think it is tough these days because the five members of Pakatan in Sabah have virtually finalised except for one or two seats.
“In the last meeting that was held with them and Azmin, (DAP’s) Tan Kok Wai and Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli of PAS were there to listen to their arrangement and compromise, and finalise their decision. With Star Sabah, it is more complex because I read Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan’s (Star Sabah leader) statement, and I am not sure that he can reaffirm that.
“But if they say they can win five seats and that they will negotiate at the right time with Pakatan, I do not think that is the position to take. If you are a party and you can think of negotiating with Barisan Nasional, then you are not committed to the reform agenda.
“You can talk about Sabah for Sabahans but you do not talk about reforms, you are not just here just to say that the Sabahans take the lead. The Sabahans take the lead, they give recommendations what the policies are, they give recommendations and decide who the candidates are. But we cannot compromise on the issue of good governance on reform of this country. That is where we depart from the BN,” said Anwar.
He said there was a need for leaders with courage or conviction to undertake reforms not to protect the corrupt and not to allow to amass wealth through timber or concession.
“That is the problem and I see at the moment, that even though at the initial stage, (PPPS leader) Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Bumburing was given the task to conduct meetings, I am of the position that negotiations be conducted well including with Star Sabah. That is our initial stand and we also ask Bumburing to represent us in a similar stand.
“And I say that whatever he discussed, on behalf of KadazanDusunMurut (KDM), I am okay and I will ask Keadilan, PR to take consideration. But what happened is that Bumburing was attacked. Thus, it is not progressing,” he said.
Anwar said that SAPP’s exclusion from the seat negotiations was due to disagreement on certain parameters.
“We are only having our next meeting on Wednesday. So, I am giving them (SAPP) a small window. Why do we take this soft line despite the fact that sometimes we have been criticized as peninsula-based party or Anwar is not listening.
“I feel like taking a soft line because ideally you want to have one opposition versus one BN. That is our position. That is why I am taking a very soft line. It is very difficult to reopen now but then I would strongly advise we would take every single measure possible to ensure one candidate representing the opposition.
“I differentiate between SAPP and Star Sabah because SAPP went along, discussed and supported PR agenda.
“So, there is some space given in terms of support. But Star Sabah took a very hostile position from the beginning,” he said.
On grouses of SAPP that APS and PPPS contesting under PKR but using their own banner, Anwar’s response was that the two are not a registered party.
“Why pick up on this. I am happy they are contesting under Keadilan. That is why I said there are five (in Sabah opposition pact). I did not say three. Why must SAPP pick up on this issue. Datuk Seri Panglima Lajim Ukin (Beaufort Member of Parliament) and Bumburing were given a choice to contest either under PKR, DAP or PAS. The same with Labuan, Tan Sri Ibrahim Menuddin, the PKR banner was given because of the peculiar circumstances in Sabah.
“And I maintain that Lajim and Bumburing’s presence is most welcome because it helps change the tide in the Muslim and KDM areas. On the argument of SAPP that national parties should not compel local parties in Sabah, Anwar said that the autonomy is not a local party, but a policy adopted.
“And who can decide to give autonomy or not? It is the Federal Government. It is not a local based party. We can win SAPP, you have no influence whatsoever in deciding whether you are to get 20 per cent oil royalty or you are going to get a good governance and independent Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) to stop this rot of corruption or racist policies can only be decided by the Federal Government. The State would have a large influence given this large parameters.
“So, I think to suggest that a local based party would determine autonomy is not true. The State-Federal relations is not confined to Sabah and Sarawak only. In the other peninsula states, as you know, they would be given more space although it is not the same. Sabah and Sarawak Federal-State relations come under a different category. It is not Perlis, Selangor, Sabah, Sarawak, and so on. It is peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak and the category is different, and we recognise that which Umno has not recognised.
“Yong should know that because he was a chief minister for some years. We are committed to this. It is not just me, it (also involves) PAS and DAP. The three parties have decided that, one, Federal-State relations must change; and secondly, the issue of good governance which applies to all states and thirdly, the special status for autonomy for Sabah and Sarawak that could only be effectively enforced under a new Federal regime irrespective of whether it is a local or national party.
“Keadilan is a national party but those entrusted with authorities here together with PAS and DAP will have to decide for themselves. When we encompass good governance, we do not care whether you are national or local based party, you cannot steal timber.
“The issue is good governance. I have explained this from the beginning and I know very popular to some political leaders here. I know of peninsula people stealing timber here and I know Sabahans including Muslims, Kadazan or Chinese are equally guilty. So, it does not a matter where you come from. Robbery must be rejected. That is the principle of good governance.
“Autonomy is when you decide, okay we have 20 per cent oil royalty, these are the parameters for financial procedures, you decide what to do with the money, it is not Kuala Lumpur or Putrajaya. That is what we mean, power for (Sabah) but not the power to rob, not the power to corrupt, not the power to bully the people or power to threaten, to burn Bibles. That is only the power of Umno and Perkasa, which will end, God willing, after the election,” stressed Anwar.