KOTA KINABALU, Sept 28 — A progressive party that marries two generations from the west and east coasts of Sabah in perfect matrimony.
That is how former PKR vice president Darell Leiking describes his vision of the party he will lead alongside former Umno vice president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.
The Penampang MP said that it was his and Shafie’s vision from their different political generations and cultures to produce a mature, multi-racial party that was based on merit rather than race.
“It is a partnership of the natives of the east coast and the west coast. Using the experience we have garnered over the years, we want to be a mature opposition, that has appeal across all of Sabah. Here, anyone who uses racial politics will not go far.
“In a 1Malaysia country, why do we still have political parties segregated by race?,” he said, adding that Shafie came from a different style of politics from the United Sabah National Organisation (USNO) in the early 90s while he had ventured into politics about eight years ago.
“We see an opportunity for us to also attracting the Chinese who are looking for more mature, consistent politicians, whether they are opposition or government,” he said.
The first term MP said, however, that he believed the new platform would give him more freedom to voice his concerns without referring to the central leadership.
This was unlike his time in PKR, which he said required him to consider the sensitivities of his then-colleagues in peninsula when he broached issues of Sabah rights.
“It’s not that they minded but if I brought up a lot of Sabah issues, people will feel I’m being parochial. In a multiracial political party, I can talk more. I have also recruited professionals in communities who can give their educated opinion,” he said.
Leiking, who joined PKR in 2008, was elected as the party’s vice-president after only two years.
PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said she accepted that Leiking was leaving, but expressed hope that their objectives would still be aligned.
The 45-year-old lawyer last week accompanied 58-year-old Shafie to Putrajaya’s Registrar of Societies (RoS) to submit an application to register logo and name changes for a new political party helmed by the latter.
It is believed Leiking will be the deputy president of the yet-to-be-named party. Leiking said that according to the RoS, the party will be able to publicly announce details by the first or second week of October.
“I knew I was going to get a lot of brickbats for leaving but I left respectfully and amicably. I even shared some good memories with Wan Azizah when I told her I was resigning in person.
“We are on good terms and we hope to reach an understanding and be working together in the future,” he told a press conference at the Penampang PKR branch here Monday night.
Leiking was handing over the post of PKR branch chief to his successor Kenny Chua.
He also insisted that his switch from PKR to the yet-unnamed party did not mean he has compromised his principles or altered his stand on issues.
“I am still fighting against the [Barisan Nasional] government. I see it as just moving house, but still living in the same taman,” he said.
Leiking declined to name the party or confirm rumours that other state PKR leaders were following in his footsteps, but denied asking or recruiting any of his colleagues or friends to join.
He said that it would be best that they make their choices — PKR or his new party — of their volition, adding that it was the same for him when he decided to leave to join Shafie.
“It's part of our policy to build a new type of politics that supports principles and the people's struggles, not anyone's personal agenda.” he said.
The party sought to be part of a formidable opposition that could change the state government, Leiking explained, and they would endeavour to work with other opposition parties in the state to avoid clashes resulting in multi-cornered fights.
“The least we can do is to contest under one symbol in the coming elections. That is if everyone can come together and let go of our egos.
“There will be problems, but I think if in West Malaysia, Tun Mahathir, Azmin and Lim Kit Siang can get together for a solution, we will be stupid not to be able to do the same,” he said, listing the pro tem chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, PKR deputy president and DAP parliamentary leader.
“We have a chance to do something different for us, and I think it is the right time.”