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SAPP play up Sabah autonomy war cry

Its president Yong Teck Lee says the time has
come for Sabahans to take full control of
their state from Putrajaya.
KOTA KINABALU: Former chief minister Yong Teck Lee wants Sabahans to give him a chance to bring back genuine political autonomy to the state.

The local opposition kingpin said his Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) is committed to fighting for the state rights and would do everything in its power to end Putrajaya’s control of the state and its people.

He told a packed political gathering at a city restaurant last night that the current Barisan Nasional (BN) rule was a form of federal-state collusion that was exploiting the state’s rich natural
and human resources.

“Sabah under BN rule today is not a state-federal cooperation but a state-federal collusion,” he said.

But the SAPP leader had no words of praise for opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat either.

“It will still be the same. We reject this set up. Therefore, we want genuine kerjasama. Please don’t think that they will give us autonomy as a matter of charity, but (will do so) only because they have to,” he said.

He conceded that currently SAPP was facing a dilemma of having to face two different schools of thought, with one group determined to support a local party like SAPP, and the other calling it a ‘mosquito party’ that cannot do much even if it wins in the coming general election.

Yong did not provide any argument to counter the latter view and only said: “This is the dilemma that we have to overcome, and this is where our sun will rise and shine. I put this to you, that you can do something to overcome this dilemma.”

He said Sabahans must start believing themselves capable of governing their own state.

He cited the examples of Brunei and Singapore who despite their small size and not joining the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, are now clearly better off than Sabah and Sarawak who joined.

“Back in 1963, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore joined Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia as, the British was saying that if you don’t join Malaya, you will not be able to administer (your own state).

“From that time, it has been implanted in the mind of Sabahans that we cannot…that we must follow (Kuala Lumpur), from London to Kuala Lumpur we will follow. That was 1963.

“But, Brunei did not join and Singapore pulled out two years later. Lee Kuan Yew came to Sabah to persuade our leaders to join Malaysia. But after we joined Malaysia, he left without even saying good bye to us.

“Today, in Asia, which are the two smallest nations? None other than Brunei and Singapore and they are also the richest. Their currencies are also the strongest,” he said.

Time for change

Yong  pointed out that Sabah which is still rich in natural resources like oil and gas, was once the richest state in Malaysia but now the poorest state.

“How could this be possible when Sabah is an oil and gas producing state? We should be better off today especially when the global oil price goes up, instead of becoming poorer.

“Hence, we must first convince ourselves that change must start with us. All the problems like poverty, land issue etc can be resolved. We must not be looked down upon by others.

Borrowing from US President Barack Obama’s election winning catchprase of ‘Yes, We Can’ he said: “That’s why we come up with the slogan of SAPP Boleh! and the young people of Sabah Boleh!

“This is how we change our negative mindset to positive mindset from cannot win, win also no point, to we can win and we can govern,” he elaborated.

Yong, who has had his fair share of criticism for helping BN and Umno come to power in 1994 after he quit PBS and formed his own party, said that the time is right time now for change.

The SAPP leader also said that the party had prepared a second echelon of leaders to take over and lead the party.

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