SAPP leaders’ presence at DAP forum raises eyebrows -mstar

By MUGUNTAN VANAR
newsdesk@thestar.com.my

KOTA KINABALU: Barisan Nasional’s rebellious Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) showed its defiance by openly backing Pakatan Rakyat yesterday.

Standing shoulder to shoulder with DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, SAPP president Datuk Yong Teck Lee gave the clearest indication of what his stand would be at the party’s supreme council meeting today.

Seeing red:(From left) DAP’s Kota Kinabalu MP Hiew Khing Chew, Lim, Yong, Jeffrey and DAP vice-president Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim holdinga candlelight vigil in protest against the recent ISA arrests.

Yong was one of a panel of four speakers at Sabah DAP’s forum on Malaysia Towards a New Era.

“My presence here is to give a talk,” said Yong, who was at the forum with SAPP’s deputy president Datuk Eric Enchin Majimbun, the MP for Sepangar, Wanita Chief Melanie Chia, and assistant state Finance minister and deputy state speaker Datuk Frankie Chong.

When asked after the forum if his presence was a sign that he was throwing his lot with Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who has claimed that he has 31 Barisan MPs in his bag, Yong said: “We (supreme council) are meeting tomorrow (Wednesday).”

Yong told reporters that it was difficult to topple a government in power for 51 years as the Barisan had the will to hang on to power despite their internal and external problems.

“It is not as straightforward and do not underestimate the resources of the Barisan despite the coalition being seen as in disarray, making mistakes and doing bad things. They have the will to remain in power,” said Yong.

Lim, who described Yong’s presence at the forum as part of the “Pakatan Rakyat Plus” team, said the 9/16 date was an important message that there was a general consensus among the people that they want to see change and an end to an inept Barisan government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

“It does not matter if it (change of government) does not occur on 9/16 or tomorrow or 10/16 or 11/16 or 12/16 as people are ready for change and it can take place any time,” he added.

On Abdullah’s refusal to meet Anwar, Lim said the Prime Minister should do the honourable thing and accept that he has lost the majority members in Parliament and allow for a graceful and peaceful change in a democratic process.

“Abdullah can then at least leave something honourable for his term,” he said, adding that the Prime Minister should not be using draconian laws like Internal Security Act to stifle the democratic process of change.

Lim declined to comment if any Barisan MPs would be crossing over to DAP.

Asked if he believed that Anwar had the 31 Barisan MPs, he replied; “That, you better ask Anwar.”

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