Posted by SM Maulana
AFTER reading out a two-page statement on why SAPP was making its stand now on a no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister, party president Datuk Yong Teck Lee fielded questions at a prolonged press conference. The following are excerpts of the Q & A:
Q: Is SAPP alone in its move to table a vote of no-confidence?
Many people including MPs and Barisan component party leaders have expressed similar lost of confidence in the Prime Minister and some quite firmly are calling for a change in Government. But as we all know, there is some distance between having a will and making a stand. Whether we are alone, as far as the issues facing the people and as far as our stand (is concerned), we are not alone. There are many others. Whether they will make the move and declare a stand, that we will see.
Q: Is SAPP still a member of Barisan?
Barisan is no more in Sabah. There is no spirit. Nevertheless, our status of membership in Barisan will be addressed at a supreme council meeting on June 20. In any case, after the elections Sabah MPs Datuk Anifah Aman (Kimanis) Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh (Kalabakan), Datuk Eric Majibun (Sepanggar), Datuk Dr Chua Soon Bui (Tawau) and Rosnah Shirlin (Papar) have said that the Barisan had not given due recognition to Sabah. Over the last few months the spirit is no more there. It is only in form. As of today, we are still in.
Q: Do you expect to be sacked from the coalition?
Some people think so. We will make a stand (at the Friday meeting) and bear the consequences.
Q: Do you think SAPP will get support for a vote of no-confidence?
Our MPs will support or move the vote of no-confidence, then if the vote does not carry, he (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) will be Prime Minister, then we will have to look at ways and means to continue our objectives.
Q: What will be the position of SAPP ministers in the Sabah government?
We have a deputy chief minister, an assistant minister and several others like the deputy speaker, board chairman, councillors etc. We believe that all the things we have mentioned are for Sabah…and their service is the prerogative of the state government.
Q: Have you talked to other leaders?
All the signs were there. In my discussions with them, I have impressed on Barisan component leaders and Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman. I have mentioned to them this window of opportunity has come after about 45 years and will not be forever.
Q: How is your relationship with the Prime Minister?
There is nothing personal. I last met (him) in Kuala Lumpur on May 13, it was very cordial. I made it quite clear to him, and just to make sure I wasn’t misunderstood, I said that though there would be no crossovers on May 14 as speculated, we cannot rule out something like that happening in the future. I conveyed this message three times.
Q: Why is SAPP taking this action now?
We want the issues solved but we get the impression the urgency is just not there.
Q: Did you meet the Prime Minister when he visited Sabah on Tuesday?
I understand some people were trying to see whether I could meet the PM. I did not see anything much coming out of it.
Q: Why didn’t you make a decision to pull out?
The vote of no-confidence is a parliamentary process while to remain or not (in Barisan) is a political process. We also want to see the national point of view between now and Friday. Our stand today is not just that of our two MPs. It is a party stand.
Q: What sweetener could be offered to SAPP to change its mind?
I worry about delaying tactics until this window of opportunity closes. As far as counter offers are concerned, I remain suspicious of any delaying tactics. We have raised these issues in Parliament and there has been no effective response.
Q: Have you met PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim?
I’ve met him in KL and Hong Kong. I have met other leaders in and outside Barisan, to see what is happening in the country and what are the political dynamics affecting the nation and Sabah.
Q: How do you think the SAPP supreme council will decide on Friday?
I respect my supreme council and cannot speak on their behalf. Each of them will have their own views. We have to study the political dynamics of the situation.
Q: Do you expect others in Sarawak and the peninsula to follow suit?
I expect some of them to agree to what we have done or what we have said. Whether they will make a stand we have to see over the next few days and weeks.
Q: Are you joining Pakatan Rakyat?
We want to recover our autonomy as a party in Sabah. Actions so far by the leadership imply that there is no urgency in resolving Sabah issues. The return of Labuan, petroleum, imbalance in Federal laws, the RM200mil rice subsidy borne by Sabahans. We do not want to be subservient any more. Our aspiration is autonomy. We need to have an understanding with the Federal Government of the day.
Q: What if Barisan has another Prime Minister next week?
If there was a realistic chance of a change within Barisan, it would not go to Parliament. Tengku Razaleigh will tell you that.