SAPP is willing to square off with Barisan Nasional in latter's strongholds as well as contest in non-Umno areas.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) is confident that opposition parties in the state will be able to forge a pact that will see one-on-one contests against Barisan Nasional candidates in the coming general election.
The quick assurance from SAPP comes days after DAP veteran leader Lim Kit Siang said he was pessimistic of such an outcome, with Sabah opposition parties tussling with one another to be the kingmaker in any future state or national government.
SAPP president Yong Teck Lee, a former Sabah chief minister, said his confidence is based on two basic principles agreed between SAPP and Pakatan Rakyat leaders: Sabah local parties will contest a majority of the state seats and share the burden in contesting some of the difficult ones.
“SAPP is willing to face BN-Umno in their strongholds and, at the same time, to contest in non-Umno areas.
“Furthermore, consistent with the struggle for autonomy of Sabah, it goes without saying that local Sabah parties must contest a majority of state seats so that a future state government will not be appointed by federal parties,” he said.
What SAPP is offering in return is its support to all other opposition parties, including Jeffrey Kitingan’s Sabah STAR and those in Pakatan, in their bid to wrest the state and parliamentary constituencies from the the ruling BN and capture Putrajaya.
Still smarting from his poor showing in the Batu Sapi by-election in Sandakan which he blamed on sabotage by Pakatan parties, Yong said opposition parties cannot demand “easy seats” and leave the seats where the BN incumbents are popular to others.
The distribution of seats to each party should be fair, he said, citing how he had repeatedly assured DAP that SAPP would only contest in the Elopura and Tanjong Papat seats that it won on the BN ticket in the last election and would support Pakatan candidates for the Sandakan parliamentary seat and the Karamunting state seat.
“We wish to contest in one or two other Umno seats in the Sandakan zone. This formula has received overwhelming response from the Sandakan people,” he claimed.
‘SAPP not stumbling block’
DAP, however, caused dismay among SAPP leaders when it announced two weeks ago in Sandakan that the party would contest in all the three state seats and one parliamentary urban seat in Sandakan.
Yong said Lim’s admission that it was hard to achieve a consensus even in Sarawak, let alone Sabah, proves that the stumbling block to opposition co-operation is not SAPP.
“In Labuan, SAPP has declared earlier this year that it will opt out and will support any Pakatan candidate; this again shows it is not SAPP that is hindering co-operation among the opposition parties,” he added.
He said that the opposition should not lose sight of the intense in-fighting among BN parties and Umno leaders in Sabah, which makes it easier for the opposition to deny BN its “fixed deposit” Sabah seats, thus paving the way for the toppling of the BN at the national level.
Lim had voiced his disquiet over the possibility that the local opposition parties might co-operate with each other for straight fights with BN candidates.
He expressed his worries when speaking to reporters at the launch of Sabah DAP’s statewide public hearing on this year’s national day theme “Janji Ditepati” (Promises Fulfilled), at the Star City Convention Hall here on Monday.