SAPP Supremo Yong Teck Lee Ready To Step Down, But Not Quite Just Yet

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KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee (picture) is more than ready to pass the mantle of leading the party to younger leaders.

He said he also had no intention of contesting state seats in the upcoming general election.

However, despite making his desire clear, party members have urged him to stay on and not abandon ship.

“I made it very clear during the party elections that I will not push for my nomination.

“But there is another school of thought within the party saying that now is not the time for me to abandon the party.

“In the previous election, we lost every seat we contested, and then now it is not like we have standby leaders to take over. The party, including myself, was badly defeated everywhere.

These days, Yong Teck Lee, left, has better hopes in Gabungan Sabah – a coalition he formed with STAR, Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah, with Mohd Noor Mansoor, a former Berjaya minister at the helm. 

“So they told me, this is the worst time for me to leave SAPP,” he told FMT.

Nevertheless, the former Sabah chief minister said when the time comes, he would relinquish all his posts but remain in the party and do his part, although not as the president.

Yong, who started his political career early, remains defiant in his struggle for Sabah’s rights, believing that one day, the Bornean state will attain full autonomy again.

“I will never give up. Even after my death, this struggle will continue.”

The younger generation, he said, must be equipped with the knowledge of the past and seasoned politicians are duty-bound to pass their political experiences to new leaders.

The party gained only around 32,000 votes in the last election, with half of them in Kota Kinabalu and Penampang, a figure Yong said is “rock bottom” for the party.

However, he believes the party has been vindicated by what had been happening after the election because almost all of his predictions have come true on the danger of Sabahans continuing to vote for Malaya-based parties.

“I said Pakatan Rakyat will collapse, and it did.

“There were no GST or 1MDB then, but things were already bad before these came into the picture. And now the people are grumbling.

“Will the people listen to what SAPP will say in the future, in the coming election? I think not yet because we have not reached the tipping point yet.

“But we are damn sure of ourselves that what we say is true because SAPP always holds on to the truth. Honestly speaking, that could have been our problem because we are truthful,” he quipped.

The party’s emerging talents can be seen by the make-up of its supreme council, with a third of them graduating from the party’s youth camp almost 20 years ago.

Yong said he is aware of the people’s perception of the party, especially when certain politicians and even activists keep linking him to illegal voters, no thanks to the disqualification of the 1999 state election for the Likas seat.

In its ruling, the court found the existence of phantom voters in the constituency because the Election Commission (EC) had failed to expunge their names from the electoral roll despite objections raised at a public inquiry well before the election.

Yong had won the seat for Barisan Nasional with a thumping majority of 4,962 votes.

Following the ruling, the by-election for Likas was held the same year and Yong retained the seat with an even bigger majority, a fact which Yong said was proof enough of his innocence in the matter. – Tracy Patrick/freemalaysiatoday

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