Sabah opposition stay cool about joining unity charter

KOTA KINABALU: Opposition parties here have expressed reservations over an invitation by the PAS-Umno alliance to join their recently-launched, Muafakat Nasional, or national unity charter.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) responded briefly when asked if they were willing to consider the invitation.

“We’re studying the scenarios … all the best to them,” said PBS president Maximus Ongkili in a short text message.

PBS president Maximus Ongkili.

However, SAPP president Yong Teck Lee replied with a one-word “no” when prompted. Asked if there was any particular reason, he said: “So obvious.” He later added “no need to assume and we also no need to comment” when pressed what he meant by his answer.

Other opposition parties have yet to reply to FMT’s request for comment.

The national unity charter – Piagam Muafakat Nasional – signed by the PAS and Umno presidents on Saturday seeks to uphold the interest of the Malays, Islam as the official religion, and Malay as the national language. It vows to restore the confidence of the people in the “leadership of Islam, the Malays and the Bumiputeras”.

Umno vice-president Khaled Nordin had said the Muafakat Nasional is not exclusive to Umno and PAS, and urged Sabah and Sarawak parties as well as civil society groups to join the charter.

SAPP president Yong Teck Lee.

Sabah MCA women’s chief Pamela Yong said that while the people ought to give this latest political move the benefit of  the doubt, Sabahans should also “view it with a pinch of salt”.

She said Sabahans could add valuable insights to the partnership, “perhaps even so much as setting the benchmark and closing the gap on how to achieve this kemuafakatan to perfection,” she told FMT.

However, Sabahan hospitality should end if the pact trespassed on the vision of an inclusive Malaysia propounded by “Bapa Malaysia” Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Sabah MCA Wanita chief Pamela Yong.

“If it segregates our society based on race and religion, then without a doubt Sabah will totally reject it vehemently. This kind of political polarisation will definitely have no place in Sabah,” Yong said.

“Our political struggles would be more towards regional politics such as empowering Sabah’s position within Malaysia, protecting the state’s sovereignty, resolving the chronic issues of illegal immigrants, and strengthening Sabah’s economic standing and development.

“Certainly we have no time nor are we interested to dwell in race and religious politics,” Yong said.