PETALING JAYA, Sept 15 — On the eve of Malaysia’s founding today, Loretto Padua Jr of Sabah’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) announced he was leaving the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) for PKR.
The former LDP secretary general said he was changing his political affiliation because he was disillusioned with the BN’s failure to uplift the economic status of Sabah natives.
“I am here to join the struggle to uphold the 1963 agreement. I thank PKR and its leadership for giving me the opportunity to fight together with them,” he told a news conference at PKR’s national headquarters here.
Beside him was PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli who described Padua Jr’s defection as a key reinforcement to the opposition’s campaign to break BN’s stranglehold in Sabah, seen as a “fixed deposit” vote bank.
“For Keadilan we welcome his enrolment and are confident that it can assist Keadilan to win more seats in the Kadazan, Dusun, Murut areas,” said Rafizi who is Pandan MP.
Padua Jr, 35, is a lawyer and was LDP’s Karambunai division chief.
He said his defection was out of his realisation that the only way to oust BN is by uniting under an umbrella movement capable of threatening the position of the ruling coalition, like Pakatan Rakyat.
“For decades now Sabahans have been marginalised just because we are under federal control. That is why Sabahans now must rise and think rationally.
“Only a giant party can fight the so-called giant BN,” he said.
In the 2013 national election PKR made a breakthrough in Sabah by grabbing the Penampang seat.
It also scored major political points when a former BN federal minister Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin joined the party. He is now PKR Sabah chief.
Rafizi said the defection of more Sabah BN leaders proved that the ruling coalition was in disarray.
He also said it showed BN was no longer relevant or connected to the struggle of the common people, and its leaders were more interested in posts and power.