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Talks going on well with SAPP, says Anwar

Anwar Ibrahim today played down talks of tension
between the 'original' Sabah PKR members and
allies of Wilfred Bumburing and Lajim Ukin.
PETALING JAYA: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim today dismissed reports that talks were not going well with former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee’s Sabah Progressive People’s (SAPP) party.
He said Pakatan Rakyat, which he leads, has been “more successful with SAPP” as there has been a more active process of negotiations and “they have been attending our joint meetings”.
Anwar’s comments contradict a report on Tuesday quoting a SAPP insider who claimed that Yong had implied that SAPP could well be on a collision course with its “allies” PKR and DAP (Pakatan members) in many seats.
Speaking to FMT after SAPP’s supreme council meeting on Monday, the insider said Yong told his comrades that SAPP must stick to its “principle” that a local-based party must take the majority of the State Legislative Assembly seats.
But Anwar insisted that talks were going smoothly and that seat negotiations in Sabah were underway.
Anwar said that the opposition allies are more inclined towards a one-to-one fight against Barisan Nasional parties.
“We have taken a clear position that we are moving towards that direction, that’s it’s one-to-one,” Anwar said in a press conference at the PKR headquarters today.
When asked about Jeffrey Kitingan-led State Reform Party (STAR), Anwar said that Tuaran MP Wilfred Bumburing, who helms Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS), had been appointed to negotiate seats with Jeffrey in Sabah.
“We think we have a problem with the STAR because STAR says it is opposed to all Peninsula-based parties while we say that we are opposed to all corrupt leaders irrespective of whether peninsula or state-based. There is a difference there.
“Notwithstanding that, we have assigned Wilfred (Bumburing) to proceed with the negotiations, including with the STAR,” said Anwar.
‘We want to kill Umno’
Asked if peninsula-based Pakatan was focusing its efforts on only parliamentary seats and leaving the state to the locals to fight out, Anwar said: “There is no way we are only fighting in the parliamentary seats and giving the state to Musa [Aman]. We want to kill Umno.”
He also touched on reports that Sabah PKR was dysfunctional following Anwar’s ready acceptance of BN defectors Bumburing and Beaufort MP Lajim Ukin.
Both declared their alliance to PKR-Pakatan but declined to become members of the coalition. Lajim has set up his own platform Pakatan Perubahan Sabah which is Pakatan-friendly.
FMT had last month reported tension within Sabah PKR between the “PKR ori”[original] or “PKR photocopy”, the former referring to genuine members of the party while “photocopy” addresses those with APS and PPS who “refused” to be members of PKR but have declared support for Anwar.
But Anwar played down such allegations, saying that it was not an accurate assessment of the current situation.
“Not really, of course; there are questions raised, for example: ‘why do you consider this candidate… we think another candidate is better’. Things like that. We’ve had sessions, [PKR] state leader Ahmad Tamrin will be present in all the other meetings, similar with Wilfred and Lajim.”
“It is not about new or old, [former health minister and MCA leader] Chua Jui Meng came in later but he is still the head of Johor and doing similarly well national. I don’t think that is quite correct.”
When asked about the details of the “deal” with the newcomers, Anwar merely said that the collaboration with Lajim and Bumburing was going “smoothly”.
“They come in as partners in Pakatan. They are committed to the Pakatan agenda. We are working very well. In fact, next week I am going to [meet] Wilfred and Lajim as part of the campaign programme. I don’t have a problem, seriously.”
“There will be questions. Particularly now with people clamouring for seats or lobbying for seats; it is something which is quite normal. But we have to draw the line, you know.”
Seat talks smooth
Meanwhile, when asked about seat allocations nationwide, Anwar said that in the peninsula there has been much more progress.
“It is ongoing, in Selangor it is finished. In Penang there is one, Kedah one, Perlis one; I was told, Perak two state seats. So it is 95% resolved,” he said.
Anwar said that he told the committee working on seats, PKR’s Azmin Ali, PAS’s Mustafa Ali and DAP’s Tan Kok Wai to conclude the talks, but he was informed that there is a bit more to be done, especially in Sabah and Sarawak as it involves SAPP and STAR.


    Right to secede                                                            

    (In the news)

    In the 18-Point Agreement with the Federation of Malaya, Sarawak has been given self-governing authority.

    This document forms the cornerstone of Sarawak’s entry into the Federation of Malaysia and should be the measure by which the state evaluates any new policy formulated by the federal government.

    The Barisan Nasional (BN) government has all along stated that Sarawak could not survive without a BN government. This is the slogan being chanted by BN representatives with the state election around the corner.

    This idea is erroneous since Sarawak existed as a self-governing mini-nation long before the idea of the Federation of Malaysia was mooted.

    It was not until June 21, 1962 – the day the Cobbold Report was completed and submitted to the prime ministers of Britain and Malaya – that a recommendation was was made and approved to form a federated Malaysia.

    The reason why this recommendation was accepted is a mystery since the Cobbold Commission found that only 33% were in full support of a merger with Malaya. The other two-thirds were divided among themselves: some wanted full independence first before any merger, some wanted safeguards put in place first while others were totally against the whole notion of a merger.

    Needless to say, on Sept 26, 1962, Sarawak did agree to be part of the federation but only if the 18-point agreement was in place to safeguard its interest.

    The rest is history and Sarawak became part of Malaysia.

    Mind-boggling ignorance
    Yet, it boggles the mind to see the ignorance of the BN government towards this agreement. Suffice to say, the agreement was broken not by Sarawak but by the federation on many fronts.

    The impounding of the bibles (which were eventually released) at Klang Port and Kuching Port, goes against Point One of the agreement: “While there was no objection to Islam being the national religion of Malaysia, there should be no state religion in Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah), and the provisions relating to Islam in the present Constitution of Malaya should not apply to Borneo.”

    Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz used the pending court case against the use of the term “Allah” by The Herald as the reason for impounding the bibles. But he made a mistake.


  2. PART 2

    Right to secede

    (In the news)

    The Federal Court case should have no bearing on the importing of the bibles by Sarawak since it is practising its right to freedom of religion. Moreover, the holy books are meant for distribution in the state.

    How Nazri can link a court case to the issue of impounded bibles is incredible. But it begs the main question: why impound the holy books in the first place?

    Can Sarawak secede from the federation to form an independent nation? Unfortunately not, if you read Point Seven of the agreement: “There should be no right to secede from the federation.”
    Yet in looking at the heart of the whole agreement, one can surmise that Sarawak can act independently of the federal government.

    On the issue of the federal government’s allocation for the state, one wonders why Point 11 of the agreement is not followed: “Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah) should retain control of its own finance, development and tariff, and should have the right to work up its own taxation and to raise loans on its own credit.”

    Fundamental right
    Instead of the federation allocating money to Sarawak, the state should be the one giving pocket money to the federation. Thus, the BN government should not use the development-funding-blackmail route to woo voters every time a general election comes around. Sarawak can claim the right to be financially independent and it is provided for in the 18-Point Agreement.

    This fundamental right to self-govern and to act independently of the federation has been diluted or ignored by the BN government and kept hidden from the public eye.

    BN in effect has stripped Sarawakians of their dignity to stand on their own accord, while masking a rebranding exercise that seeks to mould the Sarawak government in the image of the federal government, which in fact goes against Point Eight of the agreement: “Borneanisation of the public service should proceed as quickly as possible.”

    The BN government has blatantly ignored the 18-Point Agreement in formulating national policies.

    It is even sickening that the subjugation of Sarawak is assisted by the local BN state representatives who are ignorant altogether of the agreement.

    The dream is not far-fetched to install a Pakatan Rakyat government. All it takes is to say “No” to BN and a strong “Yes” to Pakatan.

    Yet, this should only happen if a Pakatan government can assure Sarawak that the spirit of the 18-Point Agreement would be safeguarded for future generations to come.

    Maclean Patrick is a webmaster based in Sarawak.


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