Thursday, June 19, 2008


No confidence vote on Abdullah
- Yong declares SAPP MPs will support vote against PM
- Key SAPP leaders absent when declaration announced
- SAPP faces sack? Party’s BN membership talk on Friday


Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has lost confidence in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s leadership, the Party President Datuk Yong Teck Lee declared yesterday. In a strong statement at a packed Press conference here, Yong announced that SAPP’s two Members of Parliament - Datuk Eric Majimbun (Sepanggar) and Datuk Chua Soon Bui (Tawau) will support a vote of no confidence on the PM in the coming Parliament sitting on Monday. The shocking declaration was made by the former Chief Minister at the SAPP Headquarters in Luyang, a day after a supposed meeting with Abdullah failed to materialise. “Some people were trying to arrange a meeting between the PM and me. I did not take up the offer because I do not see much coming out of it,” said Yong when making the announcement to a room thronged by Party division leaders and reporters. Yong first explained the purpose of the Press conference, and this was followed by Chua reading her statement which said if the top leadership could not perform, then he should make way for another able leader to take over. Majimbun sent a written and signed statement as he is overseas on an official duty. But he will return in time for the parliamentary sitting on Monday. “We have lost confidence in the PM’s leadership and this is done according to the Malaysian Constitution and democracy. The vote of no confidence is an existing process stipulated in the Constitution, the law and Standing Orders in Parliament; it is nothing extraordinary,” Yong said. Several key SAPP leaders namely its Deputy President, Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah, Luyang Assemblywoman Melanie Chia and Likas Assemblyman Datuk Liew Teck Chan, to mention some, were not present during the announcement. But, Yong had an explanation, saying “they are either overseas or engaged with other urgent matters”. Stressing that they are not alone in the struggle, Yong said other Party leaders, including those in Umno, had also voiced out similar views. But he added: “There are many people including MPs and Component Parties’ leaders who have expressed a similar loss of confidence in the PM and some quite firmly and clearly called for a change in the Government. But as we all know, there is some distance between having a will and making a stand. So whether we are alone, as far as the issues affecting the Country is concerned, we are not; but as far as they are willing to make a move and declare a stand to firmly call for a change, we will have to wait and see.” Yong said his intention was made clearly to Abdullah as well as other political leaders, including Chief Minister, who is also the Saba BN Chairman, Datuk Seri Musa Aman. “In my last meeting with him (Abdullah) on May 13 in Kuala Lumpur, it was very cordial. That was when I made it clear so that I would not be misunderstood. I said it three times that although there would be no crossovers as speculated some newspaper reports of MPs, on the following day (May 14), but the PM must not rule out the possibility of this happening some time in the future because the issues are real and that the MPs are serious. “His response was basically the usual ... that we had been interviewed before, we have this press conference before, we will look into the issue, we are committed to the issue, we want to stop the issue but because I had the impression that the actual act of urgency was still not there, I therefore told him (Abdullah) not to rule out possibilities that something might happen in the future,” Yong said. Yong said he was not talking about SAPP alone as other parties like Umno and other Components of the BN, including those in Sarawak, would have to make a decision and stand somewhere in the future. Stressing that his decision was nothing personal, Yong said the SAPP is still part of the BN. “Technically, we are still in BN. But BN is no more in Sabah. It is there only in form, but not in spirit and substance. Nevertheless, our status of membership in BN will be addressed during our Supreme Council Meeting this Friday (tomorrow). “Does the Party expect to be sacked before Friday? Some people may think so but we are just making a stand and will bear the consequences. “Are our days numbered in BN? We will wait till Friday. We have two more days, so maybe, we can number it two days,” he replied to a question at the press conference. Yong also disclosed he had met Parti Keadilan Rakyat Advisor, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, on two separate occasions, once in Hong Kong and the other in KL, in addition to meeting other leaders, in and outside BN, including Umno, and discussed several issues affecting the country including their effects on Sabah. He described the meetings as normal ones. Yong was mum about whether there was any possibility of SAPP quitting the BN, saying that he would only make the announcement after the Friday meeting. “My Supreme Council members know what I am thinking but I want to know what they think. I have to respect my Supreme Council members, so let us just wait till Friday,” he said, adding that the issue of pulling out of BN has many patterns. “It does not necessarily mean in or out. The decision will depend on the many patterns in the political scenario,” he said. To a question whether there was a possibility of SAPP joining Opposition Pakatan Rakyat, Yong said the issue whether he would remain in BN or join another national Coalition does not arise. “All we want here is to recover our political autonomy as a party in Sabah and that means that there is no urgency or desire to surrender he autonomy by joining another National Coalition. We want an authentic Sabah political autonomy. “Of course we are trying to produce an objective. So if there is any party which understands and agrees with our issues, we will work it out with them. And I mean work with them and not join them,” he stressed. He said the decision to publicly declare the vote of no confidence against Abdullah was made as finally, after 45 years, Sabah has gotten its ‘window of opportunity’ to voice out its needs and demands to the ruling Government. But he fears that this opportunity is running out of time as the window closes in August when the Nation’s attention is switched to MCA and Umno elections. Later the people would be preoccupied with the fasting month, Hari Raya, school exams and year- end events and Sabah would, soon, be forgotten again, according to him. He went on to explain that; “For 45 years, whatever Sabah asked for is put up against the wall, whether it is State of Federal finance or other matters. That happened a lot of times. But after 45 years, for the first time, we have this window of opportunity to recover our political autonomy.” He continued: “When the Sabah Government was strong (in the past), we surrendered Labuan (to the Federal Government). Now we want it back. After June 6, 1976, we surrendered petroleum and now we want 20 per cent. And all these opportunities are rising from the political, tsunami in West Malaysia affecting Barisan Nasional today. “We were there all along, supporting BN, campaigning for the Coalition and our candidates in the last election, all this in respect of candidacies. But it is time for us to make a stand.” Yong stressed that unfair Federal laws, excessive taxes and structural imbalances in the economy would remain entrenched if the opportunities were not seized quickly. “Sabah will remain the poorest State subservient to the central leadership. Labuan bridge, poverty eradication and rural development will remain elusive. Racial politics and wasteful monopolies will continue as usual while the illegal immigrant problems will reach the boiling points. “Grown up street kids, illicit drugs and crimes will continue to strike fear among the people. Police and law enforcement will remain understaffed and under-resourced. In other words, Sabah will lose out badly again. We will not get this window of opportunity for another 50 years, if ever again,” he stressed. With all these in mind, Yong stressed that there is a need for an immediate declaration of no confidence in Abdullah and the Government to tell the BN Federal Government that they could no longer tolerate their insensitive attitude towards the Sabah issues that are real and serious. Asked on what would make him change his mind, Yong replied: “I worry about the delaying tactics. They would say there is no need for this or that, this will take time, this has to go to Parliament, that the laws need to be amended and without realising, the window of opportunity is closed. I am suspicious with all these delaying tactics and soon they will ask, what is there to talk about.” SAPP, which was formed in 1994, is running a poll on its blog, asking members of the public whether it should stay on in BN, leave the Coalition but remain independent, or join Pakatan Rakyat. At Press time, there were 2,828 votes tallied, with 85% (2,411 votes) asking SAPP to join Pakatan Rakyat. Only 2% (80 votes) urged it to stay on with BN, while the remainder suggested it should quit BN but remain unaligned.