KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 (Bernama)
Kimanis Member of Parliament Datuk Anifah Aman said Wednesday Sabah elected representatives were looked upon with suspicion for raising the grievances of the people of the state which he claimed had been marginalised for a long time from mainstream development.
"When we voice the people's aspirations, it does not mean that we oppose the government. When we use strong words, it does not mean that we want to switch political parties. "What we want to inform this House is that the people of Sabah did not switch camps like those in the five states in the peninsula," he said when speaking during the debate on the motion of thanks for the royal address in the Dewan Rakyat.
However, he said, it was not wrong to switch parties or "vacate a bungalow and move in to a terrace house if we are not given sufficient room in the bungalow".
"Let it be, even if it were a terrace house. We will all enjoy the same facilities. Even when we live in a bungalow, we still sleep by the toilet," he said.
The "bungalow, terrace house" phrase was used by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi earlier when he asked Anifah, who had declined the post of deputy transport minister, whether he agreed that it was pointless to move out of a bungalow, meaning the Barisan Nasional (BN), and move in to a terrace house, in reference to the opposition alliance.
"I agree. What's the use of switching from a big house to a small house? But, if there is no room for us in the big house, what's wrong with it (moving to a small house)?
"Therefore, certain people must take the appropriate action because we have contributed many seats (in the elections) for many terms. Do not marginalise us," Anifah said.
He also said that he could not understand why Sabah elected representatives were targeted when the issue of party crossovers were raised by the opposition and the BN.
"We are only a handful of people in Sabah. Why the concern when a few people want to cross over when, in the peninsula, tens of thousands of people in the five states have switched camps?" he said.
He said: "Before the opposition gets excited, I myself have no intention to cross over."
In jest, Anifah asked the House to ask the crossover specialist. The statement prompted Datuk Ibrahim Ali (IND-Pasir Mas) to stand and voice his dissatisfaction for often being referred to as "the frog prince" for whom switching parties was nothing new.
The issue of crossovers was raised by Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) who asked whether the Kimanis MP had received a report on the Sabah BN MPs who wanted to join the Opposition.
(Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had reportedly said that several BN elected representatives in Sabah would join the Opposition, thus enabling the Opposition to form the federal government.)
Anifah said during the debate he disagreed with the proposal to introduce an anti-party hopping law because it would portray Malaysia as a police state.
"If a party leader deviates from the objective, do we want to sacrifice the people's interests to support that leader?" he said.
Anifah, who had been deputy minister of plantation industries and commodities for two terms prior to the March 8 general election, raised several issues related to the welfare of the people of Sabah.
These included their involvement in decision-making levels at the federal level, the returns to the state government from government-linked companies utilising resources in Sabah, oil royalty, and infrastructure facilities for the people.
He said there were MPs from the peninsula who did not really understand the Sabah people and drew conclusions based on their visits to cities such as Kota Kinabalu.
"We elected representatives go down to the ground in our constituencies every week and tackle the people's problems. Only we know the real situation. We have been independent for more than 40 years but our children still walk for miles and in the mud to get to school.
"I know that it will take time to tackle all these issues but I hope that they can be resolved before the next general election," he said.