KOTA KINABALU, Sept 16 ― Seeking a return to the state political arena, former Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia is hoping to gain traction with voters on reclaiming Sabah’s rights by focusing on something other than the usual Malaysia Agreement 1963.
The de facto leader of the United Sabah Nasional Organisation, better known now as Usno Baru, said that the MA63 agreement is now irrelevant as a platform and the right approach is to amend the constitution and allow Sabah more autonomy.
“Usno is viewing the Putrajaya and Sabah power tussle outside of the MA63 and the 20 points agreement which most parties are concentrating on.
“This has proven to be a failure so we want the federal government to be obliged to guarantee any loans Sabah wants to seek from foreign entities,” he said during the Usno Baru manifesto launch at the Courtyard Hotel in 1Borneo Shopping Centre here today.
He was speaking to a crowd of about 200 party members, candidates and supporters.
Pandikar said that both agreements, which have been the basis in Sabah’s negotiations with the federal government, were mooted during the days when Malaysia was being formed. He emphasised that this objective has been achieved.
“It is a done deal and the claims are contravening with the Constitution and it is not an efficient system to negotiate within. It is now the time for a new deal,” he said.
“We also want the same status for all political party presidents, so for instance the Umno president and Usno president should be on the same level. That is, the top leaders in a country do not necessarily have to come from peninsular Malaysia or the same party,” he said.
Pandikar, a former assemblyman who has not contested in the state elections in a while, is now leading Usno Baru in contesting 47 seats and hopes to win enough to help form the state government.
He is running for the Pintasan state seat in this election.
He said that Usno Baru is not part of any coalition as it wants to do away with the pre-determined seat divisions and negotiations currently practised by the Perikatan Nasional, Barisan Nasional, Warisan and Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalitions and alliances.
Usno Baru is a revived version of the old Usno that was founded by Sabah pioneer Tun Mustapha Harun.
Its support, largely from the Muslim Bajau and Suluk communities waned with the entry of Umno into Sabah. Usno was dissolved in 1994 but returned in its present form in 2013.
Usno Baru has not really been active in the political scene till recently, having faced some leadership tussles. There was talk of Mustapha’s son Datuk Amir Kahar Mustapha returning to lead the party in this election but negotiations also fell through.
The party is now estimated to have some 80,000 members.
“This is why we have a new deal. The manifesto is important so people know what are about. We want to fight for a new deal, not the same song that the PH government and Warisan has been singing.
“I want to hear if the people want this new deal. Who doesn’t want a PM from Sabah?” Pandikar said.