Thursday, July 3, 2008


There will always be window of opportunity for Sabahans: Salleh


When Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Datuk Yong Teck Lee announced recently that the Party had lost confidence in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s leadership, his strong statement jolted the country’s political landscape. Yong’s contention is that Sabah must ask for what it is due now or else the window of opportunity will close by August as after that the State will be forgotten as the Federal leaders will turn their attention to other issues. He felt that the attention could switch to the MCA and UMNO elections as well as the peoples’ pre-occupation with the fasting month, Han Raya Aidilfitri, the school exams and other year-end events. But former Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Salleh Said Keruak says there is always a window of opportunity for Sabahans. “We should not confine ourselves to a time frame,” he said, adding that Sabahans would continue to voice out problems besetting Sabah. “Our struggle with the politics of time never ends. Every Sabahan shares the same concern over the Sabah problems, including that of illegal immigrants. We may have different approaches and mechanisms to raise numerous issues affecting the State but the ultimate aim is the same - that is to see results for the betterment of the people and the state,” he told Bernama here. Salleh also said the people of Sabah were generally in favour of an increase in oil royalty and hoped that the Federal Government would consider the request seriously and positively. “In fact an increase in oil royalty means more funds for development in the State and this will benefit the people,” he said. Salleh said the State Government under the leadership of Datuk Seri Musa Aman had frequently brought up the issue of oil royalty for the Federal Government’s attention and Sabahans were awaiting the good news. Yong as well as United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO) President Tan Sri Bernard Dompok and Kimanis Member of Parliament Datuk Anifah Aman had also made similar calls to the Federal Government to increase up to 20 per cent in oil royalties. Political Analyst Lesaya Lopog Sarudim said everybody has the right to hightlight issues in Sabah and they should be brought up in a friendly and cordial manner. “But we are separated by a vast ocean from Peninsula Malaysia and when the tone is low, the people at the top sometimes do not pay attention. When the sound is loud and clear, chances are that it might wake them up,” he said. In this context, Lesaya viewed SAPP’s move in criticising the Federal Government leadership as a wake up call to address the problems faced by Sabah although SAPP paid a heavy price for it, having been issued a show cause letter by Barisan Nasional (BN) Headquarters. He said the fruits of SAPP’s struggle was evidenced from the announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that the Government would launch a massive operation to flush out illegal immigrants in Sabah soon. “In my own view, if the Federal Government responds positively to Sabah’s request for an increase in oil royalty, the Opposition will have no more big issues to grumble about to win the hearts and minds of the people in the next general election,” said Lesaya. - Bernama

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