by Malaysia Insider
The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has pulled out of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition and will become an independent party.
The decision was announced in a statement today following the party's supreme council meeting in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah today.
The pullout comes three months after SAPP declared it had lost confidence in the leadership of the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, sparking speculation that it would join Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance.
Today's decision deals a minor blow to BN's parliamentary majority as there are two SAPP MPs under the coalition.
But it also comes as a disappointment to the opposition because the party has decided to remain independent.
By leaving BN, SAPP leaders are taking a political gamble that it will be a popular move in light of strong anti-federal sentiment in the state.
As such the party is hoping it can be a springboard towards the possibility of capturing power at the next state elections.
In its statement, the SAPP accused the BN of losing the "BN spirit", and said it was "not that the people who did not want BN, it was the BN who abandoned the people".
The statement added that BN had refused to learn any lesson from the results of the March elections, citing what it said was a ruthless increase in oil prices, the failure in tackling inflation, and the abuse of the Internal Security Act (ISA).
The BN backbenchers' recent trip to Taiwan and what the party said was the instigation of racial animosities had contributed to the collapse of confidence in BN.
"SAPP hereby proudly disassociates ourselves from these shameful wrongdoings of the BN government.
"SAPP further believes that the BN is not capable of practising good governance and non-racial politics."
The statement also asserted the party's belief that BN had no intention in granting autonomy to Sabah or to review unfair policies.
With today's decision, the party says all of its lawmakers will relinquish any government positions.
The party has four Sabah state assemblyman and two MPs.
The state lawmakers are Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Raymond Tan, Assistant Sabah Finance Minister Melanie Chia, Elopura assemblyman Au Kam Wah and Likas assemblyman Datuk Liew Teck Chan.
Tan, who is also the party's deputy chief, said today he would resign his state government posts within the next 24 hours but he had not decided yet to quit the party.
He had walked out of today's supreme council meeting. Tan said Au would be quitting the party.
SAPP's two MPs are Datuk Eric Enchin Majimbun and Datuk Dr Chua Soon Bui.