KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has passed its test of resilience as a political party after having survived twelve years in the opposition after leaving the then ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) in 2008, said its President, Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee.
He related that it was in 1995, one year after the formation of SAPP that the party had formulated its party culture to include the value of resilience.
“Leaders and members who have remained loyal to the party are proud that we have passed the test of resilience. Resilience was absorbed as part of our party culture because, at the time, we felt that Sabah did not have parties that could last long.
“Most, if not all, Sabah parties, after losing power or losing elections simply disappeared,” he said.
“In 1995, SAPP believed that it was inevitable that SAPP would one day lose power completely. Honestly, I did not expect that the day when we lost power completely came so soon when the party was only 14 years old.
“As a consequence, all our grassroots leaders such as village heads, Kapitans and councillors have been wiped out completely,” said Yong in his 30-minute speech delivered online to registered 265 participants which included 23 observers all over Sabah.
“By the time of the elections of 2013, SAPP did not even have any legislator left. All sorts of evil lies were said about the party by our opponents. Our party lost again in the elections of 2018,” said Yong, who is also former Sabah Chief Minister.
Yong said he was proud that the members never gave up on the party.
“I believe that you have remained steadfast in the party, in the belief that the correctness of our party struggle will one day see the rise of the party again.
“Although our party holds no post at the Federal Government and we are also not a member of the Sabah cabinet, we feel and work as part of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) government,” he said.
Yong related that the way and circumstances that SAPP returned to the political mainstream is with honour and pride.
“SAPP had withdrawn from BN in 2008 when BN was still strong and firmly in power. But SAPP did not return to the political mainstream by way of BN. Neither did SAPP join the then ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) which had shown hostilities towards Sabah and Sarawak autonomy.
“It was the turbulent political situation in February 2020 that had brought about a new political landscape whereby a new Federal Government was formed and led by our Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin,” Yong reminded delegates.
Confident that Tan Sri Muhyiddin can bring new hope for Sabah and Malaysia, SAPP joined PN as a founding member.
The fact that SAPP did not have any Member of Parliament or Assemblyperson at the time and yet SAPP was accepted into PN shows that SAPP’s contribution to PN and to the nation and to Sabah is not because it has MPs or YBs.
“I believe our acceptance into PN is because SAPP is effective as a fighting force that can contribute in many ways to nation building and to strengthening PN in Sabah,” said Yong, who is currently a Nominated Assemblyman.
Recalling the Sabah politics of 2020, Yong said that SAPP saw how the Government under the Prime Ministership of Muhyiddin has brought back harmony and rule of law.
Confident that PN can save Sabah from the Philippines’ claim to Sabah which the Philippines was loudly proclaiming at the time, and that the PN Government can solve Sabah’s illegal immigrant problems, SAPP decided to join PN.
SAPP also saw the chance of the fulfilment of Malaysia Agreement 1963 when the Federal Cabinet was formed in March last year (2020) as stated by the Prime Minister when announcing his cabinet line-up.
“Similarly, we also believe that the PN Government can revive the economy of Sabah.”
“I remember that when the Prime Minister, as the Chairman of PN, handed over the PN letter admitting SAPP into PN, he welcomed SAPP as a party that can contribute towards nation building, towards strengthening PN and helping the Federal Government in developing Sabah,” said Yong.
Calling Datuk Seri Hajiji Haji Noor an “inclusive leader” who can unite the people of Sabah, Yong also declared the party’s continued support to Hajiji as the Chief Minister and also the Chairman of the ruling GRS and PN Sabah.
Yong also called on SAPP members to understand, and to fully support, the Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) plan which is the development plan of Sabah.