Dewan committee member Abang Ahmad Kerdee Abang Masagus said the two states are different from Peninsular Malaysia with state-oriented politics still considerably strong, especially in the rural areas.
Sabah, he added, is also different from Sarawak, as Umno is the most influential party in the State while there is no Umno in Sarawak.
However, he said deciding whether it is a national or state party that should be representing the whole of East Malaysia is just illogical.
“Who should be contesting should instead be based on the sentiments among the voters in a particular constituency,” he said when commenting on STAR Sabah chairman Satuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan’s latest call for Peninsular Malaysia-based political parties to focus their aim on wrestling parliamentary seats in the 11 states in the peninsula.
On Sunday Jeffrey reiterated that Pakatan Rakyat (PR), consisting of PAS, DAP and PKR, should leave it to Sabah and Sarawak parties to stand in all 58 parliamentary seats in East Malaysia, including one in Labuan.
“Local parties may be the better bet in certain rural areas where the voters still prefer them but national parties could do better against BN in the urban areas, as has been proven in past elections,” he said when contacted yesterday.
Ahmad Kerdee, who is also PAS national legal secretary and Sarawak legal advisor, said PR cannot stop Jeffrey from continuing to make such a statement and express his views, as there is no law prohibiting a person from announcing his opinion and intention to contest in an election.
However, he said the issue of who should contest and win should be decided by voters, and voters today are smart and well-informed to make the right decision.
According to the Batang Lupar PAS chief, most people in Sabah and Sarawak, especially the younger voters, no longer view people or parties from Peninsular Malaysia as outsiders.
Stressing that PAS is willing and prepared to contest anywhere in the country, he regretted that Jeffrey was trying to portray PAS and PR as outsiders and less eligible to represent the people in the two states as compared to local-based parties.
“We all need each other, the State Government needs the Federal Government and vise versa. So, we need to work with each other if we are to take over from BN.
“We cannot stop him from expressing his views but such a statement is uncalled for, and a narrow state-oriented politics is not the way forward,” he asserted.
He said while PR cannot stop STAR or the other smaller state-based parties from running for the election, it would be better if all quarters could realize and work together towards achieving their common goal of toppling the BN government.
“Three-corner fights, should STAR continue to insist on not cooperating with PR against BN, could have a negative effect to the opposition as a whole and would only benefit the BN.
“But it could also go the other way around and benefit PR, as although it is possible the opposition votes would be split between PR and STAR, it is also possible that the voters from BN may actually go to STAR, reducing the votes for the ruling party.
“At the end of the day, it is the voters who will decide, not the contesting parties,” he said, adding that a one-to-one fight against BN candidates is the ideal situation to maximise the winning chances of the opposition.
He also said that the political trend in urban areas in the country, including in Sabah and Sarawak, has changed with the younger voters beginning to appreciate the fact that a state party is no longer a must, but what is more important is that a party should be able to lead and govern the people effectively.
He said political parties are also demanded to have the ability of not only governing the State they rule, but also effectively represent the interest of the people from that particular state at the federal level.
In this regards, he urged the people of Sabah to support PAS and PR as the party and opposition coalition have proven their ability in many states they represent in Peninsular Malaysia.
Posted on May 9, 2012, Wednesday