KUALA LUMPUR (May 14, 2008): By Liew-Ann Phang
If and when East Malaysian Barisan Nasional (BN) parliamentarians defect, the ruling coalition cannot do anything anymore (to stop the defections), said Datuk Anifah Aman (BN-Kimanis).
Anifah, one of the many Sabahan and Sarawakian MPs who voiced their concern and dissatisfaction over BN’s lack of attention to issues in the two states in debates on the motion of thanks on the royal address, did not discount himself from doing the same.
"I will do it (defect) if it is in the best interest of the people," he told reporters in Parliament lobby today.
However, Anifah defended that the Sabah leaders were actually trying to stop the people from defecting.
When asked about the up till August time frame given by Datuk Yong Teck Lee (Sabah Progressive Party President and Gaya MP), Anifah said people were getting impatient and were drawn to the 20% oil royalty offer by Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
"It makes a lot of difference for Sabah. Whether it becomes a reality, is debatable. What we are saying is 'look into our grievances', the problem of illegal immigrants.
"If you can set up the Judicial Appointment Commission and the Malaysian Commission against Corruption, why can’t you set up a commission to look into this matter," he lamented.
Parti Bersatu Sabah president Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan likened the situation to the government being the doctor who is not treating the aches and pains of the people, the patient.
"It is just like when we are sick, the doctor doesn’t treat you to get rid of that pain in the body, you will continue to feel sick and unhappy and miserable. The aches and pains have been expressed in the Dewan and the patient has been talking and telling the doctor they need treatment," he said, adding that Sabah MPs were merely protecting the country and its sovereignty.
"This means illegal immigrants must be sent away. We have laws which must be enforced. Who are you choosing, your citizens or the illegal immigrants? Of course your citizens must be protected," said Pairin.
On the oil royalty, Kitingan said it needed to be considered "as I see it as a lopsided agreement".
"It is also being fully exploited by the Opposition and the agreement has to be studied. You can’t just dismiss it as not being lopsided but there must be a discussion with all the MPs and leaders to look at the facts and figures so that the people are satisfied," he added.
Datuk Seri Panglima Abdul Ghapur Salleh (BN-Kalabakan) denies any knowledge of MPs "jumping ship" and says he isn’t one, for now.
However, he quipped: "If I am not satisfied, I will form my own party. Why should I jump? I don’t want to jump because the other party will also tie my legs, like BN". "All I am saying to the leadership is we don’t want to be second class citizens."
Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan (BN-Kota Belud) said the election gave the people a chance to change the political model of country and he is all for a two-party system in the country.
On Yong’s ultimatum that his party may leave BN in August if the state issues are not resolved, Abdul Rahman said he believed Yong said it in good faith as he was only presenting the views of the people in Sabah and Sarawak.