Former Sabah Chief Minister Yong Teck Lee believes that Anwar Ibrahim is the man for 'today's Malaysia'
KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has thrown its support behind Anwar Ibrahim as the only person of stature who is capable of rolling back the clock and reinstating the state’s autonomous status within Malaysia as envisioned during the founding of the nation.
Party president, Yong Teck Lee, in a astute move to firm up support for SAPP by the powerful national opposition coalition, professed his admiration for the former deputy prime minister as a person who had the strength of character to bring about change for Sabah.
“As we know, all national movements for change have an iconic image of its leader. For example, in Asean alone, Aung San Suu Kyi and Corazon Aquino were leaders of change who were part of the old order but who led the change to a new order in their nations.
“In today’s Malaysia, that leader for change is Anwar Ibrahim,” said Yong.
He said that the fact that Anwar who was sacked and jailed on suspicious charges had managed to cobble together a disparate group of parties, proved he had the will to help put the nation in a new and more democratic path that would be fairer to all.
The move appears to be SAPP’s trump card in its bid to strike a deal with Pakatan Rakyat to allow the party to contest in a majority of the 60 state seats in the 13th General Election.
Yong, a former chief minister of the state, declared his party’s support for Anwar as PM during the party’s biennial delegates’ conference last week. The event was also attended by PKR No 2, Azmin Ali.
He said SAPP was aware that there were many who did not belong to any political party who wanted to see the country’s many opposition movements unite under one leader who would be capable to bring about a change in government.
“The national opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, therefore should not be restricted as the leader of only an opposition party or a grouping of parties, but the leader of all the forces and all people opposed to the current ruling regime,” he said.
Other Pakatan Rakyat leaders that attended the event were Sabah PKR chief, Thamrin Jaini, Sabah PKR secretary Dr Roland Chia as well as from DAP Sabah, its publicity officer, Chan Foong Hing and former Tamparuli assemblyman, Edward Linggu representing Star Sabah.
‘MP seats for Pakatan’
Yong reminded that SAPP had left the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition on Sept 17, 2008 in order to jump start the process of change.
“On that day SAPP dared to make a move out of the government and fight valiantly for the autonomy of Sabah in Malaysia. We did not waver, we did not ask for seats, assurances of victory and this and that. We said yes. We will fight and so we fought.
“We declared no confidence in the government… we said we would leave the ruling government and we did the right thing because we knew we are on the right side of history. This is the integrity and credibility of SAPP,” he said.
Yong said that in order to understand Sabah’s situation today it was necessary to have a historical perspective. He pointed to three defining events that decisively changed the fate of Sabah.
The first was the Malaysia Agreement of July 9, 1963 that transferred national sovereignty from London to Kuala Lumpur on Sept 16, 1963, the controversial air crash of June 6, 1976 that killed newly elected Sabah chief minister Fuad Stephens and several senior members of his cabinet and the subsequent swift signing of the oil agreement that stripped Sabah of its oil and gas bounties.
The third defining event, he said, is the entry of Umno into Sabah in 1991, which injected Malayan federal politics directly into Sabah’s political system.
“The effects of all these three events can only be corrected by first defeating Umno-BN in the coming general elections” which would allow Sabahans to take back their state and identity, the former chief minister said.
In political terms the brotherly embrace between Yong and Anwar may result in SAPP being allowed to contest state seats unchallenged by other Pakatan Rakyat coalition candidates.
“In return they will hand over the lion’s share of parliamentary seats to the national opposition parties “to effect change of federal government”.
“In the seats that SAPP does not contest, we will support other opposition parties that have the best chances of defeating the BN candidate,” Yong said after months of wrangling over how best to manage the glut of parties all promising the same thing in the battle against the BN.