Infiltrating into Sabah is pivotal to Pakatan's attempt to unseat the ruling coalition in the upcoming national polls.
PETALING JAYA: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim promised to deliver “more positive news” for the federal opposition bloc in the key state of Sabah following the defections of two Barisan Nasional lawmakers last week.
Anwar said this following concerns that the defections may throw the current power-sharing deal with other parties off balance and threaten the bloc’s crucial effort to penetrate the known BN fortress.
Sabah’s political waters saw a small disturbance over the weekend when two senior BN lawmakers – Beaufort MP Lajim Ukin and Tuaran MP Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing – announced their exit from BN and declared their intentions to launch two new political movements aligned to Pakatan Rakyat.
Infiltrating into Sabah is pivotal to Pakatan’s attempt to unseat the ruling coalition in the upcoming national polls.
“I will head back to Sabah on Aug 12… with some more positive news,” Anwar told a press conference here.
Back to the table
But the PKR de facto leader admitted that the defections would force the opposition bloc back to the negotiation table, but expressed confidence that it can be resolved.
“We have been working on it for months now but I have alerted not only Lajim but other party leaders [on the need to look back at the seat arrangements],” he said.
Lajim’s departure from BN over the weekend came with the announcement of his intention to have his men contest 17 out of the state’s 25 parliamentary seats in the coming election that could scupper the Pakatan-SAPP power-sharing deal.
In March, Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) leaders had said the opposition seat-sharing formula must entail Sabah parties contesting in two-thirds of the state’s 60 state seats, while Pakatan takes on two-thirds of the federal seats.
SAPP also hinted at its refusal to back down should either Lajim or Bumburing push to field their choice of candidates, saying this was not part of the opposition’s agenda.
Anwar revealed today that seat negotiations between Pakatan and SAPP are yet to be finalised but said the dialogue is “very involved” while talks with Jeffrey Kitingan’s State Reform Party (STAR) have seen “much progress” despite the defections.
Jeffrey was reported as saying that his party will not compromise its “core areas” for any of its political allies.
The well-known politician with its Borneo agenda, who is seen to be making inroads into the state’s Kadazandusun and Murut communities, said he saw no reason for STAR to compromise on seats it considered favourable to his party.
It is understood that STAR’s “core areas” refer to between 22 and 33 seats of Sabah’s 60 state seats, many of which are mixed seats with Muslim voters.
Anwar said he believed that if these parties are committed to the Pakatan agenda for change in Sabah, the seat negotiations will be not hinder its plan to take on BN in the state under a united front.