KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee is open to parties in the Gabungan Sabah opposition pact working with other political coalitions for the good of the state.
Speaking during the party’s congress here today, where he was returned unopposed as president, Yong also pledged continued commitment to Gabungan Sabah, led by veteran leader Mohd Noor Mansoor.
“Even though Gabungan Sabah itself is a coalition of political parties, I see no reason why we cannot work with other coalitions which share our common objective for Sabah.
“The May 9 election results, which displaced Barisan Nasional-Umno as the dominant political party in Malaysia, had given us some hope that, at last, perhaps, Sabah will be accorded our autonomy and our rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“But after seven months, the picture doesn’t seem rosy after all,” he said at the congress which saw leaders of other coalition member parties in attendance, including Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president Jeffrey Kitingan.
Besides SAPP and STAR, fellow members of the coalition are Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah and Parti Kebangsaan Sabah. Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah, led by Lajim Ukin, a former deputy federal minister, left the pact in June this year.
For instance, Yong contended, that even the ministers in Sabah Pakatan Harapan and Warisan were complaining publicly that their masters in Putrajaya were not showing them respect and recognition.
“Their KL masters are now saying that they have no money to fulfil their promises to return the 40% net revenue to Sabah, that Petronas will go bankrupt if they give Sabah the 20% oil royalties promised.
“Contrary to election promises of lavish grants to Sabah and promises of RM15 billion revenue to the Sabah government, Sabah was allocated a meagre RM5 billion in next year’s national budget of RM300 billion.
“This must have come as a rude shock to Sabah ministers in both the Sabah and federal Cabinets,” said the former Sabah chief minister.
Yong said to add insult to injury, the Sabah DAP leaders who were awarded Datukships by the Sabah governor were also publicly humiliated by their Peninsular leaders. “As a Sabahan, I am sad that Sabah leaders have to endure such ill-treatment and a public slap in the face.”
SAPP had publicly declared its openness to extend its support to GBS which it is unable to join because of the group’s policy that it only accepts parties with elected representatives.
Yong also said that his party had been vindicated on two fronts, one on the recent development in relation to MA63 and also for leaving Barisan Nasional (BN).
“Our struggle for Sabah rights, Sabah autonomy and MA63 have become entrenched in the mainstream of Sabah politics. Now, even the Malaya parties are forced by political reality to concede that MA63 has to be fulfilled. SAPP has been vindicated. This is good and I am happy.
“(And) SAPP took the lead 10 years ago to leave the then ruling BN. Leaving the BN government as a matter of principle and fighting for Sabah is not the same as leaving the BN after BN had lost power.
“We have again been vindicated. For this, our members should hold our heads high and be proud that they are SAPP members. Our next goal is to see the departure of Malaya parties from Sabah,” he said.
Yong said, together with Jeffrey, SAPP was one of the earliest political pioneers of the struggle for Sabah’s rights in the Federation of Malaysia.
“Of course, there are other academics and activists outside the political arena who have also similarly fought for Sabah rights. It is my view that we should join forces with them to achieve our common aim, which is Sabah rights.”
Yong also took a dig at the Sabah government for its creation of two ministries namely health and education, which he said were pointless.
“Both health and education are still listed in the List in the 9th Schedule of the Federal Constitution. This means health and education remain under the purview of the federal government, not Sabah.
“Until such time that the federal constitution has been amended to transfer powers and finances to Sabah, it is superfluous to create these two new ministries that have neither power nor money to look after health and education,” he said.
“SAPP shall continue to voice our views without fear or favour so that the government is held accountable to its promises to comply with the MA63.”