Once fierce rivals, SAPP now pledges support for PBS

Sabah Progressive Party president Yong Teck Lee says it will get its members and supporters to campaign and vote for PBS.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has decided to bury the hatchet and throw its support behind Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) as the latter prepares to face DAP in the upcoming Sandakan by-election.

SAPP president Yong Teck Lee said that he has personally conveyed SAPP’s decision to PBS president Maximus Ongkili yesterday.

“It is common knowledge that SAPP and PBS have not been on the best of terms in the last 25 years.

“Since SAPP can support PBS in the interest of Sabah rights, I believe that each and every Malaysian in Sandakan can also support PBS,” he said when contacted today.

Yong left PBS in 1994, citing dissatisfaction with its leadership and established SAPP. His party then went against PBS in the state election that year under the BN banner.

The Sandakan by-election will also see a loose coalition of local opposition parties as well as national-based opposition parties like Umno, MCA and PAS.

It is also the first time since it was formed that BN will not be fielding a candidate in an election.

“Sabah is now in the post-BN era. This is a good sign that the political autonomy of Sabah is being accepted by more and more Malaysians outside Sabah,” said Yong.

He said it is sufficient for Sabah local parties to work with Malaya-based national parties without having to be officially tied to a national coalition, whereby Sabah parties will be subservient to the national parties.

“In coordination with other parties of Gabungan Sabah, SAPP will brief our members about the post-BN era in Sabah and get our members and supporters to campaign and vote for PBS,” he said.

Gabungan Sabah consists of SAPP, STAR, Parti Kebangsaan Sabah (PKS) and Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah (PPRS), which is based in Sandakan.

This grouping is different from the Gabungan Bersatu Sabah (GBS), an informal coalition announced by PBS and STAR last year.

Yong admitted that it would be a monumental task to defeat DAP in Sandakan, given that the voters there gave DAP a whopping 10,000-vote majority in the last election.

However, he said DAP will also have to defend its unfulfilled promises, the arrogance of power and incompetence of its current ministers.

Other than these, DAP also must answer local issues such as the poor state of Sandakan’s economy, fuel prices, new taxes and cost of living.