PPBM not out to take over Sabah, says Mahathir

PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad (centre) at the launch of Sabah PPBM in Kota Kinabalu today.

KOTA KINABALU: PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad reiterated that his party, now launched in Sabah, did not intend to take power in the state, and played down the absence of Parti Warisan Sabah at the launching ceremony.

He said he had already met Warisan president Shafie Apdal on arrival at the airport earlier today, and they had talked about issues on which the state and federal governments could work together as well as other potential areas of future cooperation.

“We have no wish to force anything on the state government,” said Mahathir, who is prime minister. “As I have said earlier, we will work with them.”

The PPBM chairman said the party’s members understood the party’s stand and they had no intention of taking over the state government (which is administered by Warisan in alliance with Pakatan Harapan).

He said Warisan was in charge, although not part of PH, and the coalition had acknowledged their special position by appointing three Warisan MPs as full federal ministers.

He also dismissed a suggestion that PPBM’s large membership number could mean a reverse takeover of the state government.

On the issue of party autonomy, such as what Umno had provided its Sabah chapter, Mahathir appeared to imply that the same arrangement could be offered.

“When I was in Umno, Sabah didn’t always follow me,” he said.

Commenting on the moves to restore state rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, Mahathir said the federal government would recognise the signatories of the agreement, namely Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya and the three territories forming the federation.

He dismissed comments that a proposed amendment to the Constitution, tabled in Parliament on Thursday, was only meant for cosmetic purposes, with no actual impact on Sabah and Sarawak.

At today’s PPBM launch, more than 30,000 attended the ceremony, and Mahathir accepted 120,076 membership application forms from the newly-installed Sabah PPBM chief coordinator, Hajiji Noor.

Among those present were party members from Gabungan Bersatu Sabah (GBS) and former chief ministers Harris Salleh and Chong Kah Kiat.

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Sabah PKR chief Christina Liew, who is also a deputy chief minister, attended the ceremony.