What really triggered Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Datuk Yong Teck Lee’s announcement on Sept 17 to pull out from the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition?
While it appears to remain a mystery, SAPP deputy president Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah — who disagreed with the decision to leave BN — has revealed that Yong was actually unhappy when no additional seats were given to SAPP in the last general election.
Although the SAPP supreme council has cited the loss of BN spirit within the coalition as the main reason for the party’s pullout, it appears to be shrouded in ambiguities as the party tries to strategise its political game plan.
They justified their move by saying that Sabah has been shortchanged all this while, and highlighted the eight-point declaration to achieve the desired result.
These included good governance and non-racial politics, automony for Sabah, a 20 per cent oil royalty, return of Labuan, review of unfair laws and detrimental departments, Borneonisation of the Federal civil service, solution to the illegal issues and redress economic and social imbalances.
However, Raymond’s revelation has somewhat unearthed ‘a political secret’ behind the party’s move to ditch BN.
It became more confusing when Yong reportedly declared his intention to contest on a BN ticket in the Kota Kinabalu Parlimentary seat before the March 8 general election.
Raymond was quoted Wednesday as saying that “Yong’s game plan was to get more seats for SAPP” but did not materialise.
“I believe this could be the real triggering event that evoked the feelings or seeds of unhappiness towards the BN leadership.
“I think the rest are only contributing factors that precipitated the departure of SAPP from the BN coalition,” veteran political analyst Iskandar Martin Gayo told Bernama here Friday.
Iskandar said as a BN component party, SAPP should have settled the issue of seat allocation within the BN family in a friendly atmosphere.
“But, it’s still unclear why SAPP could not accept the seat allocations of two Parlimentary and four state seats.
“But, one thing’s for sure, other small parties like Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) abided by the decision of the BN leadership.
“Perhaps, SAPP was confident of being allocated additional seats but it did not turn out the way they wanted it to be,” he said.
Iskandar opined this might have prompted SAPP to adopt a confrontational approach in tackling the long overdue Sabah issues, particularly the problem of illegal immigrants, which SAPP attributed to the failure of the Federal government to champion the cause of the people in the state.
This culminated, on June 18, in SAPP proposing to table a vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Yong said then that SAPP had lost confidence in the prime minister’s leadership and declared that two of its members of parliament would support the motion.
SAPP has two MPs — Datuk Eric Enchin Majimbun (Sepanggar) and Datuk Dr Chua Soon Bui (Tawau) — and four assemblymen — Melanie Chia (Luyang), Datuk Liew Teck Chan (Likas), Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Raymond Tan, who is deputy president and Tanjung Papat assemblyman, and Au Kam Wah (Elopura).
Subsequently, on June 20, Abdullah said Yong was unhappy about this and wanted to contest the Kota Kinabalu seat, which was already allotted to Parti Bersatu Sabah.
If Yong was not greedy, he could have played a significant role in bringing positive development to Sabah, Abdullah was quoted as saying.