SAPP-Pakatan: It just ain’t working out

SAPP president Yong Teck Lee is adamant that the party must stick to its principle that a Sabah-based party must take the majority of the state assembly seats.

Calvin Kabaron, FMT

KOTA KINABALU: Mistrust and uncertainty within Sabah’s opposition politics could well indeed translate into a free-for-all fight at the coming general election.

Yesterday Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) supreme council met in Likas near here and snippets leaked out indicated that things may not be going too well with its alliance with PKR-led Pakatan Rakyat.

Insider information noted that party president Yong Teck Lee implied that if things don’t work out as it should, then SAPP could well be on a collision course with its newly-found allies PKR and DAP in many seats.

The former Barisan Nasional (BN) chief minister told his comrades that SAPP must stick to its “principle” that a local-based party must take the majority of the state assembly seats, something that PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim had signaled to SAPP at one time that Pakatan would be willing to concede or consider.

But, to many observers here, that was typical of Anwar’s trademark style which was to entice Yong and SAPP to come aboard the Pakatan ship first.

One SAPP leader told FMT that at yesterday’s meeting Yong appeared adamant to go for majority state seats (60 in Sabah) purely on what he termed as “on the principle of Sabah autonomy”.

“That means he may even defy PKR’s seat ‘arrangement’ with SAPP if the former repudiate,” he said.

PKR, emboldened by its recent coup of two BN’s defector parliamentarians in Wilfred Bumburing and Lajim Ukin, is unlikely to concede much to Yong and Chinese-based SAPP.

“Yong anticipates that where PKR would not contest (in Sabah), DAP would do so to take on SAPP just to frustrate SAPP and that Anwar could not do anything about it,” the SAPP leader stressed.

Trouble in STAR

Meanwhile, over the weekend, another pivotal Sabah opposition leader, Jeffrey Kitingan, told the local press that he was scheduled to meet Yong today.

He however cautioned supporters not to expect too much from the meeting.

The State Reform Party (STAR) he leads in Sabah, while still open to work a minimum seat arrangement with SAPP, is actually poised to leave SAPP out after Yong made his own deals with Anwar on Sabah’s seats.

As of yesterday, an insider in STAR claimed that majority of its leaders, more than half are young Turks and many are green horns in politics, wanted their leader to be decisive instead of dragging until last minute to decide on seats and candidates.

Many within STAR complained that Jeffrey’s dragging his feet on candidacy and playing “openness” with other players had denied the party a more rigorous campaigning at the grassroots level.

“It would be different if you know you are the candidate already, we can go straight away from house-to-house campaign already.

“But with uncertainty, many potential candidates just shy away from too much promotion which is bad for the party which is already lacking in funds,” said one potential candidate who requested anonymity.

He alleged some very good potential candidates from STAR have yet to resign from their employment jobs, fearing they would not be fielded in the end.