JUNE 27 — Sabah Umno MP for Kimanis Datuk Anifah Aman has declined an invitation from maverick SAPP president Datuk Yong Teck Lee to become the leader of an independent group of MPs from Sabah and Sarawak.
Datuk Anifah Aman says he is fighting for ‘change within the BN’.
“While I share the sentiments expressed by the SAPP in promoting the interests of Sabah, I still believe in the Barisan Nasional (BN),” Anifah told The Malaysian Insider.
He said what he was fighting for now was for “change within the BN.”
“I am not jumping,” he said, repeating a line he has been using for months amid swirling speculation that he would be leading a group of MPs out of Umno and BN to possibly join the opposition.
But Anifah, who has repeatedly pledged his allegiance to Umno and the BN since, has become a key player in the battle for the support of MPs in Sabah as well as Sarawak.
The statement from Yong reinforces the growing stature of the Sabah Chief Minister’s younger brother as a de facto leader of BN MPs in Sabah.
Yong said that Anifah should lead an independent group in East Malaysia to “move the process of political change forward.”
However, the SAPP president did not elaborate as to what he meant by political change.
“This is the window of opportunity that the SAPP has relentlessly reminded our leaders and people to not let slip by,” he was quoted as saying in The Star newspaper.
Yong praised Anifah for his “bravery and farsightedness” in coming forward to identify himself with Sabah and issues raised by the SAPP.
The SAPP’s announcement recently that it would support any potential motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister received widespread condemnation from Umno and BN leaders.
But while Anifah said he did not agree with supporting any no-confidence vote, he backed the sentiments expressed by the SAPP.
Yong has now returned the favour, and is backing Anifah’s recent statement which suggests that the federal government’s proposed high-level taskforce on the illegal immigrant issue to be headed by the Deputy Prime Minister was “unconstitutional” because it contravenes Article 161E(4) of the federal Constitution, which gives full powers over immigration issues to the state authority.
Instead, Anifah says the Sabah Chief Minister should head a special taskforce, with some participation and backing from federal authorities, as this would be in accordance with constitutional provisions.
In giving his backing, Yong said Anifah’s stand on the illegal immigrant issue was a “fresh angle to the current struggle to regain the autonomy of the State of Sabah.”