This is a test of whether the party leadership is sincere in its promise to give us autonomy, says Ansari Abdullah.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah PKR, pre-empting any likely ‘hijacking’ by Kuala Lumpur, hurriedly announced its seven candidates for the state’s west coast region.
Tuaran PKR chief Ansari Abdullah said Sabah PKR had “taken the liberty” of making the announcement based on an earlier promise by Pakatan Rakyat leaders, including Anwar Ibrahim, of giving “autonomy” for the state coalition’s decisions.
He said the candidates were himself for Tuaran constituency and surgeon-activist-author Dr Chong Eng Leong for Sepanggar.
Others were Mazhry Nasir (Putatan), Anthony Mandiau (Kota Marudu), Mursalim Tanjul (Kudat), Saidil Semoi (Kota Belud) and Johanathan Yassin (Ranau).
When unveiling the list late yesterday in Sabah PKR headquarters in Penampang, Ansari said: “We have taken the liberty to release the names of the seven candidates that have been picked by the respective divisions.
“This is a test of whether the party leadership is sincere in its promise to give us autonomy. We are very confident that the party will pass this test.
“We are very confident that Anwar and the party leaderships of PAS and DAP will honour their commitment that matters involving Sabah will be decided by Sabahans.
Also present were the seven ‘proposed’ candidates and other PKR divisional chiefs.
According to Ansari, the candidates had been identified as far back as two years ago, and their backgrounds had been “thoroughly vetted.”
He added that the candidates’ respective divisions had also endorsed them.
On possible disputes arising with Pakatan partners PAS and DAP over the candidates, Ansari said the seven divisions had taken a common stand and passed a resolution that “other Pakatan components and allies” should not contest in any of these seven constituencies.
The consensus is seen as a direct response to seat demands by Pakatan’s new local allies Wilfred Bumburing’s APS Sabah and Lajim Ukin’s PPS. Both Bumburing and Lajim are former Barisan Nasional MPs who defected in July last year in support for Anwar.
Anwar’s partiality towards them has triggered widespread resentment with the state’s original party members. Party members look at both Bumburing and Lajim with distrust and believe that they are the reasons why Pakatan has dismissed other local players.
Said Ansari: “Wilfred said during the launch of APS, the purpose was not to fight for candidacy but to help the Pakatan. He also said APS will not take away PKR members…
“Wilfred is my friend, he is an honourable man and I am sure he is a man of his words,” said Ansari.
He said as far as PAS and DAP were concerned, it was a crystal clear situation. “PAS did not contest any of these seven constituencies as such they have no right to contest.
“DAP obtained lesser votes in Sepangar and Putatan; they even lost to PKR candidates.
“Neither did they contest in any of the other five constituencies, so DAP should not also lodge any claim on these seven constituencies in the West Coast North Zone.
“Therefore, all the seats should go to PKR. This is our stand,” he said adding that he was convinced that the Pakatan leadership was sincere and committed to their promise and collective pledge to honour political autonomy in Sabah.
Not final list
But Sabah PKR chief Ahmad Thamrin however has dismissed Ansari’s announcement saying that the final list of Sabah candidates will only be known next week.
“PKR Sabah confirms receiving Haji Ansari Abdullah’s proposals with reference to the proposed seats and candidates list.
“It was forwarded much earlier on to the presidential council for final stage of screening, negotiations and discussion.
“The final phase of seat negotiations among Pakatan Rakyat Parties – PKR, DAP & PAS is still ongoing at the Presidential Council level and will be concluded by this weekend.
“Once the seat negotiations are settled, then the next phase will be short listing of candidates to be concluded by the respective parties in Pakatan Rakyat.
“In the case of Sabah, the final announcement (of candidates) will be made possibly on the 12 Apr 2013 in Sandakan,” he said in a statement this evening.
Thamrin’s statement follows that of deputy PKR president Azmin Ali, who earlier this afternoon, dismissed Ansari’s candidates list as “mere suggestions”.
Azmin’s dismissal of the list highlights the growing discontent between the party’s national leadership and the Sabah leaders.