A forum aimed at getting key opposition leaders to publicly commit to a one-to-one fight with Barisan Nasional in Sabah has been cancelled.
KOTA KINABALU: Demokrasi Sabah’s (Desah) bid to get all four main political party leaders in the opposition to publicly commit to a “one-to-one” fight in the coming parliamentary election came to nought after Pakatan Rakyat leader Anwar Ibrahim failed to respond to their invitation.
Desah, a Sabah-based political pressure group, was forced to cancel a public forum scheduled for today because of Anwar.
Desah deputy chairman Ronnie Klassen said DAP national adviser Lim Kit Siang had informed them he was unable to join them due to a prior commitments but Anwar had not bothered to respond to their invitation.
He said an official invitation was extended to Lim through DAP Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, during her visit here last month.
A similar invitation was also extended to Anwar during his recent visit to Kota Marudu to talk at the forum.
“We assume he [Anwar] has his reasons; nonetheless, we have not received any confirmation or news from him,” he told reporters here.
Both Lim and Anwar were set to be “key speakers” at the forum aimed chiefly at getting the four key opposition leaders – Anwar, Lim, Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) leader Yong Teck Lee and Jeffrey Kitingan, the chairman of Sabah STAR – to publicly commit to the people’s wish of seeing straight fights with Barisan Nasional in the coming general election.
“It is extremely regretful that Desah has to call off the forum due to circumstances beyond our control.
“But we will continue to play this facilitator role to ensure a one-to-one contest between the opposition and the BN in this coming general election.
“Our role is to ensure that history does not repeat itself like what happened in the last general election when Pakatan went against each other, and benefited BN in the end,” Klassen said.
‘Leaders not ready to commit’
Meanwhile, Desah chairman Simon Sipaun, who was also present at the press conference, said the absence of the two Pakatan leaders had made the forum redundant.
“We want to see, if possible, DAP and SAPP come to an understanding not to fight against one another for their own interest.
“This forum unfortunately has to be aborted because we want to see all four of them together, especially since they have separately agreed in principle (to have one-to-one fight against BN), but we want them to express it publicly that they are in favour of one-to-one contest.
“My personal feeling is that they are not prepared to publicly announce this,” Sipaun said, adding that he was still hopeful that the opposition leaders would commit themselves to straight fights in the interests of the nation and its people, rather than that of the aspiring candidates.
He advised them to be more cautious and realistic in negotiations for seat allocations, and not to be easily swayed by the persuasion of their grassroots leaders who aspired to be candidates in the election.
Meanwhile, Klassen said Desah would proceed to organise the forum after the opposition parties have reached an agreement on the seats allocations, which he believed is ongoing now.
“Then we may organise this forum again to allow them to make known to the people their stand and who their candidates are,” he said.