Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Malaysia party plans briefing amid pullout talk

Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:05am IST

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - A small Malaysian political party called a media briefing on Wednesday amid speculation it could quit the ruling coalition, highlighting simmering tensions that could eventually unseat Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's government.

Sabah Progressive Party, which has two lawmakers in the ruling coalition, will hold the briefing at 0600 GMT in the party's base in the eastern state of Sabah on Borneo island, a spokesman said.

"There will be a press conference at 2 p.m.," said Chong Pit Sah, the party's deputy information chief. "The party president is now in a meeting with two MPs."

He did not have further details.

Sabah Progressive president Yong Teck Lee was recently quoted as saying the party was ready to quit the ruling coalition if its demands were not met.

"All the flip-flop, the indecisiveness and the changes going on give people the impression that they (government and leaders) don't seem to know what is happening and what they are going to do about it," he was quoted as saying by the Daily Express.

Lawmakers from Sabah and neighbouring Sarawak state, a sprawling area rich in oil and timber, have long grumbled that they have been given a raw deal by the federal government.
The two largely rural and poor states have complained about a lack of representation in the federal government, the token hiring of locals in federal government service and poor budget allocation handed out to them.

Abdullah recently visited the two states, pledging extra spending and plans to tackle the problem of illegal immigrants in an attempt to placate unhappy lawmakers.

Analysts have said that any defections from the ruling coalition could spark a wave of resignations that could topple Abdullah's government.

Lawmakers from Sabah and Sarawak account for about a third of the total seats held by the ruling coalition.

The opposition alliance needs just 30 more seats to win a simple majority and form the government. It won a record 82 seats in the 222-seat lower house of parliament in the March general election. The remaining seats are held by the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has ruled the country since independence.

De facto opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been wooing ruling coalition lawmakers and says that he has enough support to form a new government by September.

This comes as Abdullah is grappling with a challenge to his leadership and public anger against the rising cost of living.

Abdullah's coalition suffered its worst electoral setback in 50 years in the March poll, losing its two-thirds parliamentary majority and surrendering five states to the opposition.

seals: When the MP/MLA's fail to remember that they are people's representative before calling them self as LAWMAKERS. They should always listen to people and make the law for THE PEOPLE, FOR PEOPLE, BY PEOPLE.

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