KOTA KINABALU: Barisan Nasional (BN) component party Upko has cautioned opposition political parties that aspired to win big in the coming election that they still have a long way to go.
Its acting president, Wilfred Madius Tangau, said Upko had been in the political arena for almost three decades now and still had many things to learn.
“Experience has taught us that as a political party, even with Upko being around for almost 30 years, it is not so easy.
“Just imagine, it is only today that we managed to open Upko’s Libaran division … what more parties that are just ‘setahun jagung’ (very new),” he said after launching the Libaran Upko division in Sabah’s east coast Sandakan district here today.
The science, technology and innovation minister was commenting on the recent electoral pact between Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) and Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri (Anak Negeri).
The two Sabah opposition parties formalised the agreement last Friday and were optimistic of securing at least 22 of the 25 Kadazandusun Murut (KDM)-majority state seats in the 14th general election (GE14).
Tangau said the pact between the two showed democracy was alive in Malaysia, with anyone free to set up political organisations or form alliances.
“That is their right but it’s not easy. I just want to say good luck to them,” he said.
PCS and Anak Negeri are confident they can strike a balanced seat distribution as they try to avoid having overlapping candidates to ensure they win in at least 22 out of the total seats targeted.
On the launch of Libaran Upko, Tangau said it was to assist BN in Sandakan.
“Sandakan Upko has long existed but has been suspended indefinitely due to technical problems. With the opening of Libaran Upko, our supporters have a place now to be active in politics.
“Libaran Upko will also do its best to help all BN candidates in the three parliamentary and state seats in Sandakan to secure victory,” he said, adding that the division had 1,000 members.
Meanwhile, Upko wants the ruling coalition’s 14th general election manifesto to include the reaffirmation of Sabah’s special position, in accordance with the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Tangau said Upko has made its point clear to the BN top leadership through deliberations and representations.
“We want to ensure that the MA63 is in the manifesto,” he said when asked to comment on Upko’s input in the formulation of BN’s election manifesto, which is expected to be unveiled on April 7.
He said before this, Upko had already submitted its representation to the prime minister through a memorandum with a 10-point recommendation for the Constitutional Revision/Administrative Rearrangements Towards Greater Autonomy for Sabah in 2015.
He said the memorandum was to address the inalienable rights of Sabah and her people as “equal partners” with Malaya and Sarawak, within the context of the Federation of Malaysia.
This also includes safeguarding the special position, character and interests of the state, as stated in Article VIII (the “compliance mechanism”) of the MA63.
“Upko strongly believes this initiative will further strengthen the agenda of nation-building,” said Tangau, who is also the Tuaran MP.
Upko also wants matters related to MA63 that could be implemented immediately to be carried out before the coming election.
“For instance, the provision of the 40% revenue sharing, which has been stated clearly in the constitution.
“This particular provision, deriving from the MA63, actually only concerns Sabah, and not Sarawak.
“It is a very important provision because it is the basis for Sabah to agree and form the Malaysian constitution.
“Another issue is the freedom of religion, which is already stipulated in the constitution,” he said.
Tangau said over the years, there had been several civil cases where Malaysians had to fight in the court to revert to his or her original religion.
“For instance, if a Hindu wants to revert to Christianity or vice versa, there should not be any hindrance. This is what freedom of religion is, based on our understanding.”
Present were Upko vice-presidents Wences Angang and Marcus Mojigoh, Gum-Gum assemblyman Zakaria Edris, Upko secretary-general Donald Mojuntin and Libaran Upko protem chief Dr Peter Jr Naintin.