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Friday, November 30, 2012

Quirky Sabah politician seeks PM’s post

Sabah-based Parti Bersatu Sasa Malaysia’s (Bersama) president is becoming increasingly ‘embarrassing’ and a liability to his party.
KOTA KINABALU: Suhaidin Langkap has stood for elections multiple times and failed but that has not dented the 63-year-old’s ambition of capturing Putrajaya and becoming prime minister.
Considered something of professional now after standing as a candidate in the last three elections and losing his deposit all three times, the Sabah politician is determined to contest in the coming 13th general election as well.
This time he is coming out all guns blazing. The president of Parti Bersatu Sasa Malaysia (Bersama) or Malaysia United People’s Party, will also be fielding candidates in all the 222 parliamentary and 502 state constituencies in the country.
Langkap claims his party membership stands at around two million with most of the members being former members of MCA, Gerakan and Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP).
However, this has not gone down well within his own party and he is facing a revolt and a leadership challenge.
An irate Bersama divisional head for Kota Marudu, Timis Sambadi, said that by making the “fantastic” membership claim, the party president had blundered and created confusion in his own ranks.
“He did not even mention how many members the party has in Sabah. MCA and Gerakan members put together might not even go beyond two million,” Sambadi pointed out, and demanded Langkap resign to make way for others who are more capable to lead the party.
Langkap, who hails from Keningau, the throne of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) leader Joseph Pairin Kitingan, has always been a controversial figure from the time he started to focus on politics more than two decades ago.
He founded the United Democratic Sabah People’s Party (Setia) in 1994 during a period of political turmoil in the state after Umno spread its wings to Sabah and when PBS was in the opposition.
He led the party in 1999, 2004 and 2008 elections but its candidates all faired miserably with all of them losing their deposits after failing to win the minimum number of votes.
Defeat after defeat
In the 1999 state election, Setia contested in 18 seats but all its candidates lost their election deposits.
They had contested in Kudat, Bengkoka, Matunggong, Tamparuli, Dulaman, Likas, Petagas, Kimanis, Pantai Manis, Lumadan, Kundasang, Ranau, Tambunan, Labuk, Sungai Sibuga, Sekong, Elopura, Kunak, Lahad Datu and Kalabakan.
The party fielded candidates in the 2004 election and again they all lost their deposits in the state seats of Klias, Kuala Penyu,Kundasang, Keranaan, Paginatan, Sungai Sibuga, Tungku, Kunak, Balung, Tanjong Batu and Sebatik. The party’s candidate for the Pensiangan parliamentary seat also lost his deposit in the same election.
Langkap himself lost his deposit after bagging only 314 votes in a four-cornered contest for the Bingkor seat in 2004 which was won by Justin Guka of United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation for the Barisan Nasional coalition.
He suffered defeat again in 2008 after polling only 202 votes in a four-cornered contest for the Sook state assembly seat which was won by BN component, PBS’s Bobbey Ah Fang Suan.
Last year, Langkap decided to expand the reach of the party and changed its name to Bersama when the party spread its wing to Peninsular Malaysia on April 23, 2011.
The Registrar of Societies allowed the party to make major changes and amendments to its constitution. These changes included having a new symbol which depicted Mount Kinabalu with three rings overlapping its face.
When launching Bersama’s wing in Kedah, Langkap announced that the party would field candidates in all states in the 13th general election.
The Election Commission website states that Bersama is among 32 parties whose symbols are registered with the commission, a prerequisite for eligibility to participate in an election.
During the party’s supreme council meeting early this month, Langkap disclosed that the party was ready to face the coming general election and its candidates’ list was almost finalised.
However, the embarrassment within the party over his flamboyant claims may see him ignominiously ousted from his post and doom him to defeat before the election is called.

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