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Monday, February 28, 2011

Inter-party dialogue to focus on Sabah problems

With a looming election, political maverick Dr Jeffrey Kitingan is in a rush to consolidate his place in Sabah politics.

KOTA KINABALU: In a bid to bolster his own position as champion of state rights and Sabah autonomy, United Borneo Front (UBF) leader, Jeffrey Kitingan, is organising a ground-breaking inter-party dialogue on Sabah problems.

The dialogue, which is open to participants from both sides of the political divide, also aims to promote UBF’s Borneo Agenda for a freer and autonomous Sabah and Sarawak.

Slightly more than three hours have been allocated for open discussion during the seminar, scheduled for March 5, which the organisers hope will pave the way for inter-party dialogue.

Organising chairman, Guandee Kohoi, confirmed that invitations had been sent out to political parties in Sabah, but so far only opposition party Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) had confirmed sending a 15-member delegation.

SAPP president Yong Teck Lee, a lawyer, would present a paper on “State-federal relationship and state autonomy”.

SAPP deputy president, Amde Sidek, will also be a panellist.

The other panellists include social activist and author of “Lest We Forget”, Dr Chong Eng Leong, and the two co-founders of UBF, lawyer Nilakrishna James and economist Zainal Ajamain.

Jeffrey, who quit PKR two months ago, and is said to be ready to form or join a political party this month, will present a paper on “A way forward for Malaysia”.

Meanwhile, Sarawak National Party (SNAP) president, Edwin Dundang, who was initially slated to present a paper on “Sarawak’s experience on state-federal relationship”, has indicated that he might not able to make it due to the impending state election.

According to Guandee, there will be about 150 participants from various districts and backgrounds. But it is understood that they will mostly be supporters of UBF’s Borneo Agenda.

Component members of the ruling Barisan Nasonal (BN) like PBS, Upko, PBRS, LDP and Umno have all been invited to send officials to the dialogue along with PKR and DAP.

Also included are smaller parties like Sabah People’s Front (SPF), and Setia, the party many believe Jeffrey has targeted as his political vehicle. - FMT

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