Sabah’s Daily Express reported on 4th September PAS’s Federal Territories Commissioner, Uztaz Haji Mohd Noor bin Mohd as saying that the relevant Pakatan leadership had decided that PAS would, notwithstanding its candidate lost his deposit in the contest for the Labuan parliamentary seat in 2008 and garnered fewer votes than an independent candidate, contest the Labuan parliamentary seat again in the 13th GE.
What I found somewhat puzzling from this report was that Mohd Noor was quoted as saying that the Presidential Council of Pakatan had decided that for state seats, the state Pakatan councils would decide and that the “three leaders of the council from PAS, PKR and DAP had agreed for the Labuan seat to be contested by PAS”.
Labuan is a parliamentary seat, so how is all this relevant?
On 5th September, FMT reported Labuan DAP’s Lau Seng Kiat as refuting Mohd Noor’s statement.
”I have been advised by Pakatan leaders that allocation of seats for Sabah and Labuan have yet to be finalised. We are still in the process of negotiation to determine the contesting parties in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan,” Lau is reported to have said.
Another report by FMT the following day had Mohd Noor reiterating his earlier statement and offering his views on alleged concerns of voters with regard to PAS’s perceived “hardcore Islamist stand”.
Mohd Noor is reported to have said that a survey had shown that the party had 55% support of the local Malay community, which included its 1,500 supporters in Labuan and that many “of the Chinese voters are backing (any candidate) PR (Pakatan), so the issue does not arise” and that “(As for lifestyle fears), Labuan PAS will respect the economic, cultural and religious rights of the other races”.
“Our focus and manifesto is on improving health infrastructure and the socio-economic status of the locals in and to ensure that they enjoy the benefits of a thriving oil and gas industry, ” he is reported to have said.
I have something to say on that survey that Mohd Noor refers to, but first, let me share with you a little of what I know has been going on the last few months relating to the matter of who, amongst the opposition parties, would contest in Labuan come the 13th GE.
In my ‘Please PAS & PKR, can we ABUkan Labuan?’ post, I mentioned that since I was refused entry into Sabah last December, I’ve been going to Labuan to carry on the work I had started in Sabah. What that work in Sabah entailed is the subject of a forthcoming post.
In my first trip to Labuan last December, I learnt from the local leaders and members from PKR, DAP and SAPP that PAS did not have a hope in hell of wresting the seat from BN in the 13th GE and, yet, PAS was adamant about contesting the seat. Never mind the non- Muslims, even local Muslims were vary of voting for PAS, given the lifestyle of many of the latter on this duty-free island.
I returned to KL and that very month, spoke to leaders in both PKR and DAP.
My message was clear and simple.
If Pakatan wanted the rakyat to ABUkan the nation, they would have to do likewise and put aside party interests.
I returned to Labuan in January and did my own survey amongst the Muslims there.
Now, here’s the difference between my survey and that referred to by Mohd Noor.
I met Muslims in 4-D shops, karaoke bars and GRO lounges.
I am pretty sure the survey conducted by PAS did not venture into these establishments to get feedback.
And I did not have on a skull cap or a jubbah.
I am willing to bet that those carrying out the survey for PAS would have had on their person something to show that this was a PAS survey, so one can well imagine the restraint many of those surveyed would have exercised in their responses.
Now, please don’t imagine that those I spoke to were just the young.
Many I chatted with in those establishments I had to refer to as ‘Abang’.
The response was the same : they would not vote for PAS.
In my earlier post referred to above I had said that the locals I had spoken to in Labuan feel that given local sentiment, a non-PAS Malay candidate, preferably from PKR has a good chance of displacing UMNO / BN come the next elections.
In short, pick the right opposition candidate and make it a straight contest and Labuan is definitely ABUable.
In February or March, this year, I met Labuan PAS local leader, Haji Amir.
Also present were some of the local PKR and DAP leaders.
I shared my thoughts with him on why PAS should make way for a PKR candidate, with the others present voicing support for my proposition
The matter of our contradicting survey results came up.
I suggested that a third survey, this time by a professional outfit, be commissioned.
Haji Amir lamented that much had been spent in their earlier survey already and they might not be able to afford another.
I responded that if PAS was amenable to this, and would abide by the findings of such a survey, I would endeavour to find the funds for the same.
He was clearly unhappy.
That same night, he called to ask if I would attend a meeting with his committee members.
I attended the meeting, with the company of 2 local PKR leaders.
The gist of their complaint was that until December last year, all the Labuan local Pakatan component parties were agreed that PAS would contest in the 13th GE in Labuan and that this latest about turn by PAS’s partners was tantamount to reneging on an agreement. Labuan, they said, belonged to PAS.
I dealt with the last point first.
I told them that Labuan, just like the 221 other parliamentary seats, did not belong to PAS or any of the other political parties.
They all belonged to the rakyat.
Every 5 years or so, at elections, we decide which candidate be given what is tantamount to a temporary occupation licence (TOL).
If that person lives up to expectations, he might have his TOL renewed at the next poll.
But ownership of all 222 seats is never divested by the rakyat to the political parties.
As to their first point, I asked them to consider that whatever agreement reached had not taken into consideration the pressing interest of the rakyat to have UMNO/BN removed from Putrajaya. I explained that my recent acquaintances in Labuan had now been persuaded to consider this and, having done so, see that Labuan is ABUable. I apologised if I was the cause of this re-think on the part of my new friends but urged the local PAS leadership to do likewise : put the interest of the nation in removing UMNO /BN from Putrajaya above party interests.
Needless to say, I left a rather unhappy committee that night.
Is Mohd Noor right in his assertion that the Pakatan leadership has settled that PAS will contest in Labuan again this 13th GE.
I hear otherwise.
I hear from my sources in Pakatan that it has been agreed that PKR will contest the Labuan seat this 13th GE and that the only negotiation going on now is for PAS to be offered an alternative seat elsewhere.
My friends in Labuan have been urging me to take the ABU initiative to Labuan.
I have told them that I will only do this once we have it confirmed that PKR, and not PAS, is contesting.
What if Pakatan still fields a PAS candidate, they asked?
I responded that if Pakatan is not inclined to ABUkan Labuan, then maybe the people of Labuan should take matters in their own hands and field a candidate to take on UMNO and PAS in the hope of ABUing Labuan.
The seat, after all, does belong to the people of Labuan.
In which event, I would take the ABU initiative to Labuan to assist