Malaysiakini reports that former BN coalition partner and now opposition Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has confirmed that it will be contesting in the Batu Sapi parliamentary by-election.
NST Online reports that Sabah PKR is divided on whether it should contest in that by-election, with former Sabah PKR chief Ansari Abdullah in favour of PKR entering the fray, whilst PKR Batu Sapi division head Datuk Nahalan Damsal is inclined to the party giving way to SAPP taking on BN in a straight fight.
Whilst Nahalan expressed his readiness to help SAPP in the by-election, he nonetheless thinks that Pakatan will not give in and will make it a three-cornered contest.
Here’s what I think both SAPP and Pakatan should do.
I understand that PKR has developed a criteria for candidate selection.
Let’s call that criteria a “MP-Aptitude test”.
Both Pakatan and SAPP should come to the negotiation table, disclose their respective proposed candidate, who should be Sabahan, measure both by that MP-Aptitude test and see who comes out tops.
Then apply a second test to both.
Let’s call this the ‘Integrity’ test.
This requires looking into the background of the candidates, to ascertain, to the extent possible, the risk factor of either turning out to be a froggie.
For instance, does either gamble heavily, or have very heavy financial commitments, or known to engage in socially questionable behavior such as may expose the person to blackmail?
What if both prospective candidates emerge from this exercise with flying colours?
If Pakatan is sincere about wanting to take BN out in the next general election and, to that end, working with all like-minded parties, Pakatan should not only give way to SAPP in this by-election but also throw the full weight of its election machinery behind SAPP to help secure their victory in Batu Sapi.
This would be an excellent act of goodwill, and would pave the way for a good working relationship for the 13th GE.
It would also set a precedent for an objective, reasoned basis for candidate selection.
Most importantly, in my view, this will allay fears in Sabah and Sarawak that Pakatan is no better than BN in merely wanting to cease power in the states and rule from Semenanjung, rather than working with the locals to return justice and equality to the people of Sabah and Sarawak.