PKR doesn’t have Sabah representatives in the pocket yet, say observers

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 23 Mar 2008

KOTA KINABALU: PKR has only identified Barisan Nasional MPs for possible crossover in the state but “does not have them in the pocket yet”, said political observers here.

Sabah elected representatives could be tempted to jump ship but they were unlikely to do so unless some from Umno made the first move, they said.

Politicians agree that all eyes are on Sabah because of the tendency of MPs and assemblymen to tukar baju (change shirts) for the past 45 years.

This time, however, they said there was a lot of caution in view of the bitter experiences faced by Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) when it decided to leave Barisan before the October 1990 election and paid a heavy price. PBS rejoined the coalition in 2002.

A senior Umno leader said yesterday that there were also other factors, including Sabah politicians who would only make a move if key national figures decided to opt out.

He said the current scenario at federal level was offering “opportunities” in light of the grumbling among components over the distribution of federal ministerial posts.

Sabah and Sarawak together with Labuan FT delivered 55 of 140 Barisan parliament seats but the two states only got five ministerial posts, he said.

Observers noted that the carrot for Sabah and Sarawak politicians was similar to the offer in PKR's manifesto for Sabah and Sarawak that offers, among others, higher oil royalty and a second Deputy Prime Minister from east Malaysia.

“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 had approached Barisan MPs but said if they were to identify the MPs, then: “Nanti dia jaga jaga” (Barisan will guard their MPs).

Progressive Institute of Public Policy chairman Datuk Tham Nyip Shen said that Sabah political scenario remains stable now as there wasn't enough impetus to trigger an exodus of Barisan MPs.

However, he said, the Barisan leadership must take a serious view of the political developments.

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