Jun 20, 2008

SAPP wins support in no-confidence against PM Abdullah

Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Datuk Yong Teck Lee has received endorsement by SAPP supreme council for his call for a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia - A rebel party in Malaysia's ruling coalition on Friday won the backing of members to press ahead with its no-confidence vote against embattled Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

After a marathon session lasting more than six hours, top leaders of the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) endorsed party president Yong Teck Lee who Wednesday called for the no-confidence move against the premier.

"It is a decision reached by consensus after hearing all the views in the supreme council meeting. Majority of the supreme council members supported the motion of no confidence against the prime minister," Yong told reporters.

"The two SAPP MPs will support any vote of no-confidence against the prime minister in parliament or one of them will move the motion," he added.

Analysts said the unprecedented move compounded Abdullah's problems after disastrous March elections, and that it could trigger a ripple effect of dissent within the 14-party coalition.

Abdullah has been fighting for his political survival since the polls that saw the opposition win a third of parliamentary seats and control of five states.

A recent 41 per cent petrol price hike, which has triggered widespread outrage and public protests, has made Abdullah's position even more tenuous.

But political figures said the vote would not "see the light of day" when parliament reconvenes Monday because of parliamentary rules that make it easy for the ruling party to block the motion.

Analysts however said it would intensify the opposition campaign to win over disgruntled MPs from the ruling coalition in its attempt to seize power.

Yong criticised the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) for re-opening an old investigation related to allegations of corrupt practices when he was Sabah chief minister from 1996 to 1998.

"The action by the ACA on me is to deter others from taking the same stand as us. ACA is creating a situation of fear," he said. "Why investigate now when SAPP is moving a no-confidence motion."

Yong said the motive for his action was not greed as alleged but the failure of the federal government to ensure economic prosperity and security of his state on Borneo island.

There was an urgent need to resolve the growing problem of illegal migrants from the southern Philippines, he said.

Yong added that Sabah was entitled to 20 per cent of oil royalties to bolster prosperity, instead of the five per cent it currently receives.

On Thursday, Abdullah's supporters rallied behind him and the prime minister said he would continue to lead the government despite the attempt to topple him.

"I cannot afford to be distracted by issues that keep coming up. I have to be focused with what I have to do. When things like this happen, we have to deal with it," he said.

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