KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 (Bernama) -- The decision by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to lay claim to up to six seats left vacant by the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), which left Barisan Nasional (BN) in September 2008, has riled their counterparts in the state component.
Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Gerakan, MCA and Umno are said to be unhappy with the LDP for openly voicing their claim to the six seats making up two parliamentary seats -- Tawau and Sepangar -- and the state constituencies of Luyang, Likas, Elopura and Tanjung Papat.
LDP president Datuk V.K. Liew has openly vowed, "It goes without saying that LDP will continue to hold the four seats we contested in 2008, namely (the) Sandakan parliamentary (seat) and the three state seats - Karamunting, Merotai and Tanjung Kapor.
"These seats are non-negotiable. That is our stand. We are very clear about it. On the other seats left vacant by SAPP, there is no doubt that we are the eligible local-based party to contest these six seats," he told Bernama in an interview.
SAPP quit BN on 17 Sept 2008, removing two parliamentary and two state seats from the ruling coalition. The seats are Tawau, Sepanggar, Likas and Luyang.
Six seats were allocated to SAPP but two of them, Elopura and Tanjung Papat, remained in BN after its assemblymen, Au Kam Wah and Datuk Raymond Tan, decided to leave SAPP and join Gerakan following SAPP's decision to leave BN.
The LDP has also said they wanted the Karamunting seat back, which had been won by state Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Peter Pang running on the LDP ticket before he quit the party and joined Gerakan.
Liew, who is the Sandakan MP and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, said that even the elected representatives have joined other BN component parties.
"There is no doubt the seats are under the LDP and cannot not be changed. Even though Datuk Peter Pang has joined Gerakan, the seat still belong to us. We have held the seat since 1999 and won every single election there. There is no question about us giving them to other parties. That's why I said it is non-negotiable," he noted.
Former LDP member Datuk Peter Pang, who is also state assemblyman for Karamunting, left the party at the end of August 2010 before joining Gerakan on March 15 this year.
Liew, who is also chairman of Elopura LDP division, did not mince words when he also take a swipe at those who had quit the party to join rival BN parties so they would receive positions in government.
"I know there is some lobbying going on to get our seats. However, I would like to repeat again, the seats originally allocated to us are non-negotiable. I know someone who left the party for his own personal glory. Later he tried very hard to get our seats, but we are not moved by such tactics," he said, without naming the person.
Political analysts added that when Liew said the "LDP is the only eligible local party", he was obviously referring to non-local parties such as MCA, Gerakan and Umno, which are also reported to be interested in these seats.
MCA is eyeing the seats formerly allocated to SAPP, as they are looking for an additional two seats -- one state and another parliamentary seat.
This is because in the last general election MCA was only allocated a single state seat, Kepayan, without any parliamentary seat to contest in Sabah.
The Kepayan state seat is being held by its state chairman, Datuk Edward Khoo, and party insiders pointed out that the party is looking for additional state seats -- either Luyang or Likas -- and a parliamentary seat, Tawau, in the next general election.
"The additional seat request was one of our state convention resolutions that was passed two weeks ago.
"That's why we have appealed to our president (Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek) to secure more state and parliamentary seats for Sabah MCA," Khoo said when contacted.
The situation is the same for Gerakan, which is likely to ask for two state seats currently being held by its two cross-over elected assemblyman, Raymond Tan (Elopura) and Au Kam Wah (Tanjung Papat).
At the same time, the party is also said to be eyeing at least one parliamentary seat, Tawau, which is currently held by SAPP vice-president Chua Soon Bui.
These would mean there would be overlapping claims by existing state BN components over the seats formerly allocated to SAPP.
However, Chief Minister, who is also state Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Musa Aman, has put his foot down when he openly urged state BN component parties to focus their attention on serving the people and not quarrelling over seat allocations.
"I would like to advise all component parties to give more focus to working and serving the people. This is what is more important," he was reported to have said.