Strategically, this decision will split the votes for the opposition, but, politically it might be a wise move. The main issue is, the opposition must not be disunited. Yesterday, party leaders of SAPP and Pakatan had their meeting to sort out whose candidate will be fielded in the Batu Sapi parliment by-election.
The Malaysia Insider reported that efforts by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) to strike a deal with Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) to ensure a straight fight against the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the upcoming Batu Sapi parliamentary by-election did not materialise.
The two parties met during an hour-long lunch meeting here today, with PKR represented by treasurer-general William Leong Jee Keen, and SAPP by its president, Datuk Yong Teck Lee. However, both parties have agreed not to campaign against each other but against the BN government, stating that Batu Sapi would become a ‘reference point’ to the opposition’s future discussions. They might have considered, that, a win will not change anything at state or federal level.
The Batu Sapi seat fell vacant after its MP Datuk Edmund Chong Ket Wah, of PBS, died in a road accident in Tanjung Aru on Oct 9. There are 25,582 registered voters in the constituency, including 1,535 postal voters. Nomination day is Oct 26 and polling is on Nov 4.
However we believe it will be better if only one candidate represented the opposition. PKR also had the option to pull out of the by-election and let SAPP field it’s candidate and campaign with them as a show of goodwill. Since that did not happen, we should be happy that the meeting ended with both sides did not go on a collission course. Even though both parties will field their own candidates, they left open for further discussions regarding future co-operation among SAPP and Pakatan.
Maybe, this meeting can be seen as the beginning of a bigger cooperation between the parties in Sabah politics, since, they have agreed not to go against each other in the by-election, but, together outwit the corrupted BN. All these points towards BN facing a stiff challenge from the opposition coalition in the coming general elections.
But, there are a lot of other problems to solve among SAPP and Pakatan Rakyat. SAPP considers only a Sabah based party should govern Sabah. But, Pakatan Rakyat is a national based party like BN, which means, this might become an obstacle in future cooperation deals. SAPP must understand that they by themselves might not be able to topple the current state government of Umno/BN without cooperating with other opposition parties especially with Pakatan. So, lets see how they overcome this.
Even though Pakatan Rakyat is a national based political coalition, but, they recognise Sabah’s 20 point agreement. Based on this ageement, Pakatan Rakyat recently announced that if the Pakatan coalition comes to power, Sabah will be given an autonomy status. We believe, SAPP also wants the Federal Government to agree with the Sabah 20 points and Sabah, allowed to be ruled by Sabahans through an autonomous state government.
So, we can see that there is not much difference between SAPP and Pakatan’s goals for Sabah’s future, which means there should not be many obstacles to overcome for future cooperations. As for the Batu Sapi by-election, this decision might not bring victory, but looking at the bigger picture, Umno/BN should be cautious of the opposition’s might in the looming general elections.