Sunday, March 23, 2008

:: Sabah produced "frogs"...?

Tham: All eyes on Sabah cos State produced 'frogs'

Kota Kinabalu: The Barisan Nasional (BN) leadership must take a serious view of the political developments within the two East Malaysian states, said Progressive Institute of Public Policy Analysis (PIPPA) Chairman Datuk Tham Nyip Shen. He said the BN leadership cannot take the support from these two states for granted in view of the rapidly changing political scenario in the country. "The centre of gravity is not Kuala Lumpur or peninsula alone. They (BN leadership) have to give serious attention to Sabah and Sarawak," he said, while noting that so far the nine-member Barisan components in the state were intact with the federal coalition.

Sabah political scenario still remains stable at the moment as there is not enough happening to trigger any exodus of its 24 of the 25 MPs in the State, said Tham. He was asked to comment on talk that Sabah elected representatives could be tempted to jump ship by joining Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). Many political observers in the state are of the opinion that they are unlikely to do so unless any from Umno make the first move.

Both coalition and opposition politicians agree that all eyes are on Sabah because of its history of MPs and assemblymen frogging to other parties after winning elections. However, they are also cautious following the experience faced by Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) for ditching the coalition on the eve of the October 1990 General Elections.

A senior Umno leader said other factors included Sabah politicians enjoying benefits with Kuala Lumpur and would, therefore, not risk taking any immediate drastic moves unless a key national figure decides to opt out. "We believe PKR has only identified people for possible crossover here (Sabah) but we do not believe they have them in the pocket," said the Umno leader, who declined to be named. He said there was no doubt that the current scenario at the federal level is offering "opportunity" for the state leaders to get a better deal for the state in light of the grumbling among components on the distribution federal ministerial posts.

Sabah and Sarawak together with Labuan FT delivered 55 of the 140 BN parliament seats but the two states only got five posts in the Federal Cabinet, he said, adding that there was dissatisfaction over the imbalances in comparison to peninsula based parties and regions.

Observers noted that SAPP is rather upset with its exclusion from the Federal Cabinet despite having delivered two MPs and four State Assemblymen to BN in the 12th General Election.
This is compared to other Sabah component parties like Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) who only delivered one MP each and yet were rewarded with an assistant minister post in the Federal Cabinet.

Political observers also noted the offer in PKR's special Sabah and Sarawak manifesto of higher oil royalty and a second deputy Prime Minister from east Malaysia, among others. "PKR will observe its manifesto if anyone wants to join us from Sabah and Sarawak," PKR vice president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said. However, he declined to say if they have made approaches to Barisan MPs and parties but laughed and replied: "nanti dia jaga jaga" (Barisan will guard their MPs) if they had to identify the MPs.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman had recently expressed confidence on the loyalty and commitment of the Sabah Barisan Nasional MPs to the coalition.