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Anwar Ibrahim
part 1

part 2

Lajim Ukin

Last weekend’s decision by two Barisan Nasional (BN) lawmakers in Sabah to back Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has intensified the tussle for seats among the federal opposition even as it seeks to loosen the ruling coalition’s hold over the East Malaysian state in the general election expected soon. It is understands that PR and the local Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) are already close to brokering a power-sharing deal but Tuaran MP Datuk Seri Wilfred Bumburing’s and Beaufort MP Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin’s sudden entry into the game so close to the polls may throw a spanner in the works for the state’s colourful opposition front. When announcing his departure from BN over the weekend, Lajim, a federal deputy minister, also stated his intention to field his men in 17 of the state’s 25 parliamentary seats in the coming election. But this may clash with the PR-SAPP power-sharing deal, which SAPP president Datuk Yong Teck Lee told The Malaysian Insider today included an agreement that would see the peninsula-based PR taking on a larger share of the state’s federal seats.

The former Sabah chief minister, however, dismissed this as an “internal issue” for PR to resolve among its three component parties of DAP, PKR and PAS. “The principle here ― and this is the basis that we have been discussing for the last three years ― is that SAPP takes on more state seats and the federal parties take on more federal seats. It has more or less been crystallised now,” “I think this whole Lajim-Bumburing situation... they are basically internal PKR and Pakatan issues. “But with SAPP, yes, yes, we are making our agreements... even yesterday, PR leaders told us that talks between SAPP and PKR will progress further,” he said.

The experienced politician pointed out that both Lajim and Bumburing would be contesting under PKR’s flag, saying this further indicated that the negotiation should not affect PR and SAPP’s deal. When asked if SAPP would be willing to back down should either Lajim or Bumburing push to field their choice of candidates in a greater share of seats, Yong said this was not part of the opposition’s agenda. “Only in the stage of fine-tuning... because Lajim’s base is Beaufort and Bumburing’s in Tuaran. The fine-tuning (of candidates) will only be in these areas,” he said. Yong’s SAPP has been pushing hard for its emotive “Sabah for Sabahans” agenda, which it says means that administrative control over the state known as the “Land below the wind” must remain in the hands of a local party.

During a March interview with The Malaysian Insider, SAPP leaders said the opposition front’s seat-sharing formula must entail Sabah parties contesting in two-thirds of the state’s 60 state seats while PR takes on two-thirds of the federal seats. This, they said, is a win-win formula that would enable all parties to achieve their goals in addition to toppling BN. Another opposition party, STAR (State Reform Party), led by 65-year-old political veteran Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, is also singing the same tune but The Malaysian Insider understands that its seat negotiation with PR has yet to be resolved. While SAPP’s Yong admitted that STAR has local advantage in some of Sabah’s interiors, a local PR leader revealed that the newly-formed political front may contest against PR during the polls.

When contacted here, Sabah DAP chief Jimmy Wong said the party was willing to be “flexible” in seat negotiation, despite noting that DAP has its sights set on fielding candidates in 20 of the state’s 60 state seats.“We have new shareholders now ― Lajim and Bumburing. So we should all give a little, take a little. “To me, the important thing is the BN wall... the great war in Sabah is about breaking the BN ‘fixed deposit’, about toppling this BN wall, which we now see cracks appearing in,” he said. Sabah PKR chief Ahmad Thamrin Jaini told The Malaysian Insider that PR parties would have to meet again at the negotiation table to accommodate its new allies.

“We need to observe, of course, their strength in their areas and our strengths. It is about the bigger picture here. “Of course, anything affecting the seats that we have agreed should be given to us in PR.... it should require renegotiation,” he said. Federal seats in east Malaysia’s Sabah and Sarawak are expected to be BN’s focal point come the general election as both states, including the federal territory of Labuan, contribute a significant 57 seats, or 25 per cent of the 222 Parliamentary seats available. In Election 2008, BN lost its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority largely due to significant losses in the peninsula, where it won just 85 seats while the opposition swept 80 seats.

Anwar Ibrahim
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Welfred Bumburing part 1
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Welfred Bumburing part 2
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Umno supreme council member Datuk Lajim Ukin announced today he is quitting all party positions to work with the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact in Sabah’s interest, in the run-up to key national polls. The Sabah lawmaker said he would leave it to the ruling party to decide on his Umno membership and his position as deputy minister of housing and local government. Lajim was also reported as saying he was not joining the federal opposition as a party member despite widespread rumours that he would be defecting to PKR. “As for my post as deputy minister, that will be decided by Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Razak) at his discretion. 
“Meanwhile, the Umno supreme council will determine my membership in Umno... if they feel I have violated the party’s regulations then they can dismiss me,” Lajim (picture)was quoted by state news agency Bernama as telling reporters during the breaking of fast at his home in Likas Jaya, near Kota Kinabalu this evening. The news agency also reported him publicly declaring the setting up of a new movement called the Pakatan Perubahan Sabah (PPS), or the Sabah Reform Front, at the same event, saying the group has a line-up of 17 representatives — one for each parliamentary constituency — in the state.
Apart from sitting on the Umno supreme council, Lajim was Beaufort Umno division chief and Beaufort Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman. He said he was resigning with immediate effect. The Beaufort MP had last month told reporters the rumour had likely spread because “I speak like I am in opposition” but that he has made “no decision to leave and no offer has been made.” “This is just speculation because I speak like I am in opposition. But it is not because I am against the government but I want improvements to my constituency. We have faced problems like flooding for over 15 years. “But nothing is impossible in politics. If the public wants me to go, I will go, if they want me to stay, I will stay,” he had said then.
Lajim also said that because of his independent stance, “the speculation could have started internally with the intention to sideline me from BN.” He had come under fire from Sabah BN secretary Datuk Rahman Dahlan last week for his vocal internal criticism of the coalition. “There is no room in Barisan and Umno for prima donnas,” Rahman was quoted as saying byThe Star on July 20. “No one is indispensable. People, including prime ministers, have come and gone,” the Kota Belud MP was quoted further. Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who earlier today confirmed he was visiting the ruling BN coalition’s eastern stronghold tomorrow for a mystery function, has deepened speculation of a major political shift in Sabah.
Anwar’s chief of staff, Ibrahim Yaacob, confirmed to The Malaysian Insider the PKR adviser would be in Beaufort, Lajim’s parliamentary seat, but kept a tight lip on the nature of the function. “He has just arrived from Medina this morning and will be in Beaufort tomorrow, but what programmes he will be attending we don’t know,” Ibrahim said when contacted today. Anwar has also been mum on the invitation. Yesterday, Sabah PKR chief Ahmad Tamrin Jaini was reported by news portal Malaysiakini as saying the party had been invited to attend the launch of the Sabah Reform Front (SRF), which was organised by Lajim and Tuaran MP Datuk Seri Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing.
Lajim had quit his post as Kerambai Kebatu Umno branch chief last month but maintained that he was not leaving the party to join the opposition, while Bumburing, who is also deputy president of the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO), quit his BN division chief post last week. The latter has been coy of his chances of crossing over to PKR. In Sabah, the deep-seated issue of illegal immigrants will likely be used as a key campaign issue in the coming polls, with the Najib administration holding the trump card for having finally agreed to investigate the issue by forming a royal commission of inquiry.
Federal seats in east Malaysia’s Sabah and Sarawak are expected to be PR’s focal point come the elections as both states, including the federal territory of Labuan, make up a whopping 57 seats, or 25 per cent of the 222 parliamentary seats available. In Election 2008, BN retained power over the Putrajaya administrative capital largely due to wins in east Malaysia and Labuan, where it made a near-clean sweep, winning 55 seats against PR’s two. But the ruling pact lost its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority after only securing a five-seat margin ahead of PR in the peninsula, winning in just 85 constituencies while PR secured 80 seats.

In the final episode, Julian Assange talks to Malaysia’s opposition leader, who faced prison terms twice in what he calls politically-motivated cases. But he never gave up fighting for democracy in a country he brands less democratic than even Myanmar. When Anwar Ibrahim, the former deputy prime minister of Malaysia and currently leader of the opposition party, says democracy, he means “an independent judiciary, free media and an economic policy that can promote growth and the market economy.” However, at the same time, he told Assange that the people of Malaysia should understand what abuses all these elements of freedom may bring to their country. “Arab Spring – one area clambering for freedom. Then we have Occupy Wall Street… and the limitations, the unbridled greed and the gap between the very rich and very poor, the complicity between the big business groups and politics – these we need to avoid,” Ibrahim says.

From prison to parliament

Nowadays Ibrahim’s opposition political party is gaining more and more support from the people. However, before his voice was heard, he went through six years in solitary confinement in prison and two criminal cases. Ibrahim was first arrested for supporting land farmers in the north and demanding better treatment from the government. As a result he spent two years in detention without trial. The activist was released after Mahathir Mohamad became prime minister, whose reforms he supported. He even became his deputy. But in 1998 Ibrahim was imprisoned for six years ‘for corruption and sodomy’ after he fell out with his boss. He was released in 2004 largely thanks to campaigning by his wife. Thousands of people went into the streets in his support.

In 2008, a significant year for Malaysian politics, Ibrahim tried to get elected to parliament. He maintains this was a real challenge because his opposition party was not given even a minute of air-time. “We won 10 out of 11 parliamentary seats, and so I believe we are ripe for some sort of Malaysian Spring through the electoral process,” he says. And despite the fresh allegations of sexual harassment he faced in 2008 and the abuse he suffered on a daily basis at the hands of the national media, his party gained more support from people. In January 2012 he won the case. But with Malaysian elections looming and Anwar tipped to win, he has recently been charged with unauthorized assembly.

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