By THE BORNEOTODAY TEAM
KOTA KINABALU – With hints of a separate Sabah election taking place as early as this April, yet another locally-based opposition party has come out to join the fray.
Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah (PPRS) is the newest party in the state seeking to try its luck ahead of the 14th general elections due by August next year, though chances are that Sabah could go it alone in a few weeks.
It is led by a former teacher turned businessman, Datu Mohd Arshad Abdul Mualap, who had previously contested as an independent candidate in the Sungai Sibuga state seat in the 2013 elections against incumbent Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.
He garned 201 votes against Musa’s 16,637.
Arshad, according to the Malay Mail online, said his party will co-operate with the local opposition pact – United Sabah Alliance (USA), to “take Sabah back from outsider power”.
But he said PPRS will not want to work with Parti Warisan Sabah, another local-based Opposition party led by former Umno vice-president and Semporna MP, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.
At a press conference here Thursday, Arshad claimed that Warisan had links to the peninsula-based Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) chaired by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and led by other ex-Umno men.
“We are vehemently against working with any outsider parties or those with links to national parties. To work with Warisan is the same as having an outside influence. Might as well work with Umno,” Arshad added.
However he disclosed that PPRS has had talks and discussions with USA’s leadership on its joining the alliance, and there have been positive indications from both sides but no decision has been made yet,” he was quoted as saying by the portal.
“We feel that the current sentiment is that in order for Sabah to gain its rightful power back, we cannot have ‘outsiders’ working with us. So our stand is to work with only local Sabah parties and not national-based parties,” he said.
Acknowledging that there were many opposition parties in Sabah jostling for seats, Arshad said that it was timely due to the current sentiments of the people, but they were optimistic of achieving an agreement to go against the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government in straight fights.
“This is the time for local parties to step up and shine. We also hope that they give opportunity for the younger generation to contest,” he said.
USA consists of Sabah Progressive Party helmed by Datuk Yong Teck Lee and Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku helmed by Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and Parti Cinta Sabah helmed by Datuk Wilfred Bumburing.
Arshad claims that the party has an estimated membership of 25,000 across the state, and that PPRS been active since 2006 but only approved by the Registrar of Societies in April of 2014.