SAPP: Tell us what’s our worth, Anwar

The capability of local Sabah party SAPP, which has been in seat negotiations with Pakatan Rakyat Sabah since 2009, has suddenly come under question.

(FMT) – KOTA KINABALU: Opposition Sabah Progressive People’s Party (SAPP) has thrown the ball back at Pakatan Rakyat over its demand for seats and wants to know what the coalition thinks the party is worth.

“If [Opposition Leader] Anwar Ibrahim said SAPP is contesting too many seats, and questions its strength, it is very simple: just tell me how many we should contest in state and or parliament?

“If they [Pakatan] think it is not agreeable to them… tell us how many they think we should contest in state and Parliament.

“I believe people expect Anwar [to give an answer],” said SAPP president Yong Teck Lee.

Considering SAPP, a Chinese majority pary, has been in negotiation with Pakatan since 2009, Anwar’s sudden U-turn has irked Yong.

With a likelihood of a March general election, it is odd that Anwar should at this late hour wonder as to whether or not SAPP is as “formidable” a party as it professes.

Recalling the meeting in June 2009, Yong said current PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, who was then PKR Sabah liaison chief, had met with SAPP’s deputy president Eric Majimbun and the perimeters of discussions were set.

“They spoke about the principle involved in seat distribution which is autonomy.

“Under the principle of autonomy as a state party, it means SAPP will contest in more state seats and Pakatan in more parliamentary seats.

“It was on that basis that we used Sandakan as the starting point of discussion. SAPP would defend Tanjung Papat and Elopura while Pakatan took the parliamentary seats including state Karamunting.

“We also said SAPP will contest in one other Bumupitera majority seat in Sandakan. This was an acceptable formula accepted by many people and the basis of further discussions,” said Yong.

Lajim and Bumburing

Yong said at no point in the discussions then and subsequently was the issue of party “strength” raised.

“If we talk about which party is strong or not, everybody will have a subjective opinion. So the principle we use is autonomy, ” he said, adding that Sabah Pakatan at that time only comprised PKR, DAP and PAS.

Yong was commenting on Anwar’s sudden turn-around over negotiations with SAPP.

Anwar told reporters when launching former Umno MP Lajim’s Ukin’s new Pakatan-friendly platform Pertubuhan Pakatan Perubahan Sabah (PPPS) here last month that it is “difficult” to continue negotiations with SAPP and questioned the party’s belief that it was a “formidable” entity in Sabah.

“If SAPP refuses to budge from its demand, then it is difficult for us to continue with negotiations that are being done in the spirit of cooperation.

“Each party should not demand too much… we have to be realistic as to the strength of each party. If SAPP, for example, wants half of the seats, it has to be a strong formidable party,” Anwar said.

Anwar’s “new found” uncertainty over SAPP is anchored in his faith in new recruits Lajim and Tuaran MP Wilfred Bumburing. Both have established their respective “independent” platforms.

Lajim helms PPPS while Bumburing has set up Angakatan Perubahan Sabah (APS).

Each has been assigned to look into the Muslims and KadazanDusunMurut (KDM) seats respectively.

Both these former BN leaders are assured of winning their respective parliamentary seats – Beaufort and Tuaran. They have each also rumoured to have pledged to Anwar several state seats.