KOTA KINABALU, Aug 21 — Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman will do all he can to ensure that the politics of division, racism, religious bigotry will stay away from Sabah.
“I will fight tooth and nail to ensure that the politics of division, racism, religious bigotry will not pollute the good people of Sabah. If anything, we from Peninsular Malaysia have a lot to learn from Sabahans when it comes to unity,” he said after officiating the opening of Muda Sabah Command Centre here on Saturday.
Syed Saddiq said that to ensure the federation of Malaysia survives, the model which Sabah adopts (in diversity) must be nationalised.
That means really treating each other as equals and with dignity, he said.
Syed Saddiq opined that there is the fear that when some states veer too much to the right and adopt isolationism and separation, we lose our true identity.
“The answer is empowerment. I think the solution to it is by empowering Borneo states in terms of their political standing in Malaysia, as well as in terms of autonomy and policies. (When you do this) you are actually not (only) empowering Sabah and Sarawak, you are empowering all of Malaysia, all moderates, all believers of multi-racialism,” he opined, adding, “We have a lot to learn from some parties in Sabah and Sarawak.”
Muda, Syed Saddiq said, wants to be the bridge to help the opposition unite.
“Yes there may be disagreements among other opposition parties but for Muda, in whatever capacity we can, we will try our best to bridge the leaders and form a strategic pact going into the 15th general election,” he said.
To a question on Muda’s relationship with Parti Warisan, Syed Saddiq said, “I personally have the greatest of respect for Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie (Apdal). I think the vision of Malaysia we want to build is about the same, a truly united, multi-racial and prosperous Malaysia which places Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners in the eyes of all Malaysians.”
On the issue of working with DAP Sabah or if there have been any talks of seats allocation with Warisan, he said that in terms of working with Pakatan Harapan, it is very clear as Muda worked very well with its component parties in the Johor state election as well as in Parliament.
“The road to election is long, there is still time to try our best to negotiate together. For Muda, the priority is not just about winning seats, it’s about transforming Sabah for good and at times we have to be patient in that long journey of transformation.
“The priority is to get our ideals, vision and policies clear first and let’s sell that vision of Sabah and see the reaction of Sabahans. If the reaction is positive and our vision is shared, it becomes easier for us to negotiate but what is important is not to lose sight of that vision for seats and power, that should be secondary.
“So allow us to go through that internal process of negotiations but our eyes must be focused on the vision to change Sabah for good,” he said.
On Muda Sabah’s role in pushing forward the party’s vision of multi-racialism politics, Syed Saddiq disclosed that from its formation, the first state Muda visited and campaigned in was Sabah.
“Why? When Muda say we are believers of moderation and multi-racialism, why go far when we can look internally which is in Sabah. If you look at our top leadership structure, we are one of the parties that started off by acknowledging in our constitution, in the foundation of our party, that Sabah and Sarawak are not just another state but are equal partners.
“We have a number of Sabah leaders in the top leadership council and we continue to look for more as we grow forward. Decision making is done almost autonomously so that we can move forward together and I don’t see a problem for decentralization.
“To me if I think from a selfish perspective, decentralization is great because it means that multi-moderation and multi-racialism will win because when they are strong the federation is strong, not the other way round.
“I don’t believe when people tell me a strong Sabah weakens Malaysia, it is the opposite. A strong Sabah strengthens the true ideals of Malaysia. My worry is that in the next 10 to 20 years if politics remain as status quo, national politics will veer to the right so much which embraces the politics of division, which hurt all of Malaysia.
“So the solution to that is to empower Borneo states because that is how we make our federation stronger together,” he stressed.
He also stressed that Muda cannot be a party of urbanites as those in the suburban and rural areas also need to have their issues resolved.
“If you only target and help them to grow in urban areas and not focus on the suburban and interior areas, we are not doing justice in fighting for the people of Sabah. This is why I keep stressing to Muda Sabah, don’t just fight to win elections, fight to win generations over (to) develop Sabah for good,” he said.
Meanwhile Muda Sabah chairman Amos Thien said that they emphasized a lot on diversity as can be seen in the state’s leadership.
“We share the idea, the vision of what we want for Sabah. If a party only represents one race, how can it champion for the rights of the people in the state or country? In Muda we believe in diversity which is reflected in our leadership,” he said.
Thien said that Muda Sabah which was officially registered in December 2021, had been on the ground even before that.
“Even before we were officially registered, we were already moving on the ground as a youth movement especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. This shows just how much we care for the people,” he said.
With a current membership of about 4,000, Muda Sabah has divisions in nine of Sabah’s parliamentary constituencies and has plans to expand to other parliamentary constituencies, he said. — Borneo Post