PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has expressed regret over the exodus of party leaders in Sabah for a local party, led by its former state chief Lajim Ukin.
In a statement, Wan Azizah said the practice of elected parliamentarians or state-assemblypersons abandoning the party on whose ticket he or she was initially elected cannot be condoned.
This, Wan Azizah said, is despite the fact she tried to understand and empathise with Lajim’s aim to reflect a more Sabah emphasis in the campaign against BN.
“Nevertheless, I intend to lead PKR to be the driving force that unites all forces against BN in Sabah and elsewhere.
“After 18 years and various ups and downs, PKR remains the only party that brings every race and every group on a multiracial and progressive platform,” she said, adding thst its inclusiveness has been the source of PKR’s strength.
Lajim, together with former PKR Moyog MP Terence Siambun and former DAP Likas MP Junz Wong, announced their decisions at a press conference in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.
Moving forward, Wan Azizah said she would be guided by the party’s constitution in filling up the leadership positions left vacant by the departures.
“All our 26 divisions in the state (including Labuan) remain strong and functional because it was individual leaders who left the party in favour for a locally set up opposition parties.
“Sabah PKR will continue to spearhead the preparation for state and federal elections expected to be called in less than a year,” she said.
Hopeful for straight fights
The federal opposition leader said she also remained positive that the leaders would to continue to work together with Sabah Pakatan Harapan to ensure a one-to-one seat in all state and parliamentary seats in the next general election.
“I will continue to engage all parties committed to the reformasi ideals in Sabah in the same way I have been consistent to engage all parties at the federal level,” she said.
To proceed with PKR’s preparations for GE14, Wan Azizah said she has assigned former PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, now her chief of staff, to meet party leaders in Kota Kinabalu by this week.
While the leaders did not specify which local Sabah party they would join, their exit comes amid an effort by former Umno vice-president Shafie Apdal to set up a new Sabah-based party to challenge the ruling coalition.
Last month, Penampang MP Darell Leiking also quit PKR to join Shafie’s party.
Other key figures who quit their respective parties include Sabah PKR secretary Maijol Mahap, Sabah PKR Wanita chief Johair Matlani and Sabah DAP deputy chief Joan Goh Penn Nee.
Sign of awareness
Meanwhile Sarawak Reform Party president Lina Soo said the departure of Harapan leaders was unsurprising, and part of a political awakening among Borneo politicians.
“I am aware that sentiments had already been brewing for some time of the awakened political consciousness of our politicians.
“This is due to increasing awareness of the urgent need for regionalism based upon the wilayah concept, where each territory knows what is best for our people based upon the principle of autonomy and non-interference in regional affairs,” said Soo in a statement.
She said she hopes the trend will take root in Sarawak as well.
“Malaya parties have their own Malaya agenda, and only Sarawak parties will fight unreservedly for Sarawak’s interests, without interference from political masters thousands of kilometres away,” said Soo.