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SAPP to split?

News from Malaysian Insider:

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 18 — The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), which parted ways with ruling coalition Barisan Nasional yesterday, could see a split as dissidents led by deputy president Datuk Raymond Tan is widely expected to set up a new party.

The Star reported today that Tan, vice-president Jimmy Wong and Youth chief Au Kam Wah are hoping to take a third of the tiny Sabah party's 300 branches across the Borneo state.

Tan, the Deputy Chief Minister and state Infrastructure Development Minister, with Wong, the Chief Minister's political secretary, and Au will be announcing their next move today.

Tan walked out of the party's supreme council meeting half an hour before it ended at 5pm at the party headquarters in Luyang here, saying the decision to quit should not have been made and should be decided by the party's grassroots.

"There was no proper basis for SAPP to leave Barisan and the excuse that it was because we were not invited for several Barisan meetings is not rational," Tan said, pointing out BN had yet to decide on SAPP's reply to a show-cause letter for its no-confidence stand against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

He said the party president Datuk Yong Teck Lee seemed to prefer that the party be expelled from Barisan after he spoke out against the Prime Minister on June 18, adding that Yong's unhappiness with Barisan was partly because SAPP was not given any additional seats in the March 8 polls.

Asked if he would be setting up a new party, Tan said: "That is one option before us, but setting up a new party is not easy."

On how many of the 300 or so SAPP branches are with him, Tan said: "I will have to get feedback from the ground. In Sandakan, the signals are clear. I will also be in Beaufort and Tawau."

Au said he had not submitted his resignation although he sent the text message to Yong disassociating him from the decision.

He said SAPP's withdrawal from Barisan was a strategic move given the present circumstances but any decision made must take into account the feelings of the people. Both Au and Wong said they would issue a statement on the decision about their future with SAPP today.