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Sunday, October 31, 2010

IS SAPP The Road To Autonomy?

By GM, Penampang Sabah

I have nothing personal against Sabah Progressive Party and its president Datuk Yong Teck Lee. SAPP has good intentions of raising the issues of illegal immigrants, the need for autonomy in Sabah and so on. SAPP is a good party to support as it is a local party, it is represented by local leaders, and it knows very much of the issues and concerns in Sabah that needs to be fixed quickly without interference from the Federal Government. Many individuals I have spoken to actually praise SAPP because this is the only party that was brave enough to quit the BN and was vocal as well as daring to table a vote of no confidence against our previous Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (now Tun). A good question to this is, despite the bravery to table a vote of no confidence, was SAPP the only party that was against the former premier or were there others?

Promoting Pakatan Rakyat is not an easy task. People who don’t know much about history of the state will lean towards SAPP due to the fact that SAPP is a “local party”. We are fed up of UMNO as they need the Federal Governments approval and go-ahead in any decision that the State Government wants to make. PKR and DAP is no different. They report to Peninsula leaders. If this is the case, why don’t we rally behind PBS, PBRS, or LDP? Are they not local parties? Logically they are, but they are in the BN. We want a local opposition party and say no more to BN. If so, why don’t we rally for BERSEKUTU? This is when there is a moment of silence and lost for words.

A majority of people rally for SAPP as they want to bring back autonomy to Sabah, like the days when Sabah was under the rule of the United Sabah National Organization (USNO), and/or Parti Bersatu Rakyat Jelata Sabah (BERJAYA). Were these parties not members/components of the BN as well? Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) was formed in March 1985 and it won the state elections that same year thus forming the State Government. “This is what we want”, claims some. Where was PBS in 1986 after the re-election (post riots)? Did they not join the BN only to pull out again before the state election of 1990? In the year 2002 PBS again rejoined the BN. What will stop SAPP from doing this to us and betray us as voters/supporters? Most know that PBS toppled because of defections. Here’s a quiz: Name the splinter parties that led to the downfall of the PBS State Government.

I am not accusing SAPP of having the intention to follow what PBS did in the past, but what is the guarantee that they will not jump back into the BN? People of Sabah; please consider all the possibilities before blindly supporting SAPP for the sake of “Local”. Why does SAPP reject the offer to join forces from Pakatan Rakyat? Datuk Yong Teck Lee says that “we can be friends (with Pakatan) but we will not marry”. If Sarawak National Party (SNAP) can join Pakatan Rakyat, I don’t see why SAPP can’t. Some may argue that Pakatan Rakyat has had their fare share of members defecting to BN, but, what are the possibilities of PKR, DAP, PAS, or even SNAP as a party pulling out of Pakatan Rakyat and joining the BN compared to SAPP rejoining the BN?

I have not joined PKR yet. I have been advised by many to do so, but I feel that it is not the right time yet. I feel that if I join now, then people will say: of course you will campaign and support PKR, because you are a member of PKR and it is your duty to do so. Believe it or not, it is easier to penetrate and convince the BN supporters compared to the SAPP supporters. It is a bitter pill to swallow but we need to work hard starting now. Indications of an early general election are surfacing and we need to act. The surprise increase of the Ketua Kampungs allowance tabled in the recent budget has made campaigning more difficult. People may say that I am a traitor to Sabah and Sabahans for not supporting a local party. I don’t feel like a traitor, I just look at the reality of autonomy from a different perspective.

A few months back, Dr. Hiew King Chew fired SAPP by saying; “If you’re not with us, then you are against us”. Back then I felt that this was not a good statement, but now I feel that it is what we must look forward to due to the fact that SAPP does not want to co-operate. If we keep harping on wanting a local party to represent Sabah, given full autonomy, look at Sarawak. UMNO has no power in Sarawak. The State Government itself is powerful without interference from the Federal Government. Do you see the Sarawakians enjoying development? If you say that this is due to the fact that the Sarawak State Government is a component of BN, then I will ask this question again; what is the guarantee that SAPP will not return to the BN to become the largest or second largest component party of Sabah BN?

People of Sabah, do we really believe that a State Government can function without the assistance and interference of the Federal Government? Sometimes I feel that the reason why the Federal Government interferes in state affairs is because they are controlling the Sabah BN leaders. Autonomy is good but too much will be a problem for us as it is bound to be abused. If we are given too much autonomy, the only ones who will super benefit are the people in power. Datuk Seri Anwar has promised us a Deputy Prime Minister II that will come from either Sabah or Sarawak. The Oil Royalty of the current 5% will be reviewed to the 20% based on the 20 point agreement, provided Pakatan forms the Federal Government, in which I am confident that they can if we work triple hard.

I have found out during my “Silent Campaign” that there are political parties enrolling the public as party members without the consent of the individual. Letters of invitation to party meetings are being delivered to postboxes, SMS are sent to attend ceramahs. Is this the reason why some political parties have the courage to lobby for seats? To prove that they must have the seat as they have the numbers in terms of memberships? I talked to some people who were illegally enrolled as party members and they take it as;biasalah, mau lobby untuk kerusi. This happens on both sides of the political divide. Some people just couldn’t be bothered and take it lightly. If this is the case, then we are not actually campaigning. We are freely enrolling people as party members without their consent, and we go back to our respective Ketua Cawangan to tell them that we have the support of the people. This trick may work psychologically, but it can also backfire. Can you imagine what will happen if we blindly enroll an UMNO diehard supporter as a PKR member without realizing it?

As for the Batu Sapi by election, I plead to the voters to really think hard on who you vote for. I cannot force you to vote for Haji Ansari, but I suggest that you do. I have many friends who are reluctant to withdraw their support for SAPP, but I advise you to look at the possibilities at all angles first before you actually soldier on for SAPP. In my last letter, I mentioned that I will wait a week for SAPP to “Declare Their Stand”. It has been barely 3 days and again I am writing about why we need to choose Pakatan Rakyat. The reason I am doing so is because signs are showing that SAPP won’t co-operate with Pakatan Rakyat as Datuk Yong Teck Lee has already announced that we can but friends but we shall not marry.

As for me, I will continue to push for Pakatan Rakyat even if I am not yet a member. When I’m doing my “Silent Campaign”, people ask me; which side are you on? Ansari or Jeffrey? I respond by saying; none, the factions are only temporary. For everything that happens, there is a reason, be it hidden or visible, and the reason that Malaysia Today exists, is for us, the privileged to go into the rural areas and tell the people to see for themselves what they have been voting for in the past. The campaign continues.

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