Call for autonomy unlikely to get much support – BN

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KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders said the rallying cry for more autonomy in Sabah and Sarawak by former PKR vice president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan is unlikely to muster much support from the people of both states.

They said the slogan was similar to the tried and tested ‘Sabah for Sabahans’ call which had been rejected as recently as last November’s Batu Sapi by-election.

State BN secretary Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the two East Malaysian states were getting the attention of the federal government due to the significant numbers of their elected representatives in Parliament.

“In fact, I would venture to say that the centre of power has somewhat shifted to the east,” he said, adding this was evident in the billions of ringgit for development allocated to both states in the Ninth and 10th Malaysia Plans.

“So it’s not right for anyone to say that Sabah or Sarawak is being ill treated by Kuala Lumpur,” said Rahman, the Kota Belud member of parliament.

He said this when asked about Dr Jeffrey’s move of quitting PKR on Dec 31 to focus on his Borneo agenda, seeking more autonomy for Sabah and Sarawak.

Dr Jeffrey claimed that both East Malaysian states continued to be denied the right to participate equally in the political decision-making process and that Sabahans and Sarawakians were “left fighting for the scraps and not having a chunk of a very large cake.”

Rahman said Dr Jeffrey had been championing the same cause for more than a decade in the various parties he had joined and left.

“While I acknowledge his tenacity, it is obvious this so-called struggle has not been making any inroads,” he added.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) information chief Datuk Johnny Mositun said Dr Jeffrey’s “struggle’” appeared to be another attempt at making a political comeback.

“He was once a part of the government and he had the opportunity but said nothing then. And now he’s making all this hue and cry about Sabah’s rights.

“This is exactly what other state leaders have been working on quietly but using the right platforms and they are effective,” he added.