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SAPP rethinks plan, eyes state seats

Cornered Sabah-based SAPP may just focus on contesting
exclusively in state seats in the general election and
leave the parliamentary constituencies to peninsular
based parties.
By Luke Rintod  of FMT

KOTA KINABALU: With the general election looming over the horizon, top leaders in opposition Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) are ‘aggressively examining” the party’s chances and strategic options.

With the humiliating defeat in Batu Sapi parliamentary by-election last year still fresh in mind, SAPP is now said to be toying with the idea of focusing on the 60 state seats at stake.

Political pundits here however believe that SAPP president Yong Teck Lee, who finished third behind PKR’s Ansari Abdullah in the by-election, would not be “too naive” not to read the signs in Batu Sapi.

“After all in Sabah, there are only three Chinese parliamentary seats. Right now SAPP holds one of them through Chua Soon Bui in Tawau.

“Where else could SAPP go?” asked one observer who wished to remain anonymous.

With the strong presence of Pakatan Rakyat in Sabah especially DAP in Chinese areas, Yong realises SAPP’s precarious position in those seats.

“We clash with DAP everywhere (in the Chinese areas),” Yong said in one of his encounters with FMT recently.

SAPP has already declared that it will stand in at least 40 state seats and this includes all the seven or eight Chinese-majority areas.

It is also looking at contesting in the Kadazandusun and Muslim or mixed areas especially where there are substantial Chinese or Sino-Kadazandusun voters.

Although SAPP leaders are tight-lipped on talks of them only focusing on state seats, one leader told FMT that SAPP needed to show the people that it is serious in its talk to take over the state government from the Umno-led BN.

“This is the reason why we will contest in as many as 40 seats.

“(We will focus on) state seats first, parliamentary (seats) we will look into it also but state seats are our priority…” said the senior SAPP leader.

The leader also hastened to add that SAPP was also bent on seeing Yong play a role in parliament.

Asked about Chua’s position in Tawau, the leader said she faces an uphill task.

“In 2008 Chua won the seat as SAPP candidate. SAPP was then in BN and had the support of Umno,” the leader said.

It was the same scenario for SAPP’s sole parliamentary seat in Sepanggar held by incumbent Eric Majimbun.

Majimbun also won the seat with the cooperation of Umno.

“I don’t think we will be getting any support for SAPP here this time,” the leader added.

Penampang for Yong

Meanwhile Yong is on the lookout for an ‘opportunity’ to make it into parliament where he can better raise Sabah issues.  Speculations are rife that Yong is eyeing Penampang parliamentary seat.

“I won’t be surprised if Yong stands in Penampang parliamentary seat in the coming general election.

“After all the mostly urbane Penampang, is one of the areas where mixed marriage between the Kadazandusun and Chinese are very common, hence a fertile land for SAPP to try its luck.

“In fact Kepayan (currently the only seat held by MCA), one of the states seats under Penampang (the other one is Moyog) is a Sino-Kadazan seat, and it seems majority of them are for Sabah-based party like SAPP,” claimed one of Yong’s friends.

In the 2008 general election, the combined votes of PKR and DAP candidates in Kepayan outnumbered the votes for BN-MCA.

PKR’s candidate in Penampang was Dr Edwin Bosi,a greenhorn. He went on to give BN’s Bernard Dompok a tough fight. Dompok won with a much reduced majority giving rise to belief that Penampang could fall from BN, if a strong Sabahan like Yong, stands there in the coming election.

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