Honest cooperation in any relationship is important and that includes state-federal ties, opines a former Sabah chief minister.
He said that considering the pivotal positions Sabah and Sarawak hold in determining the political course of the country, the relationship must be changed to that of true cooperation.
"The state-federal relationship status has changed. If before the state government cannot rule without the support of the federal government, today it is the federal government which cannot be formed without the support of Sabah and Sarawak," he added.
He was delivering a talk on "Special rights, autonomy and equal partnership status" at the United Borneo Front (UBF) inter-party seminar here on Saturday.
Said Yong: "We want to see a relationship in the form of cooperation and not kupsitsama (collusion) between the federal and state governments."
"Kupsitsama is like the case of the cancelled coal-fired power plant project. The project was actually announced by (Prime Minister) Najib (Tun Razak)… and all supported it.
"Melanie Chia (Luyang assemblywoman) and Liew Teck Chan (Likas) tabled a motion to object to this project during the State Legislative Assembly sitting," said Yong who is Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president.
He pointed out, however, that BN representatives like Samsuddin Yahya (Sekong) and Mohd Suhaili Said (Tungku) fought for it.
"Samsuddin said that we are anti-development while Suhaili said the people wanted the coal-fired power plant, but the Chinese did now want it.
"When Sepanggar MP Eric Majimbun raised the matter in the Parliament, semua hantam (all rallied against him), saying the people in Sabah want the coal-fired power plant… it's clean coal and so on.
"Then when Chief Minister (Musa Aman) announced that the project was scrapped, all of them also supported it, saying the people come first, and that Musa loves the people of Sabah… What is this?" he asked.
Yong said the same trend could be seen with the proposal to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants. "All the Barisan Nasional (BN) people refused to sign our signature campaign to call for the setting up of the commission."
"But if one month later Najib announces the setting of a Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah, the same thing will happen (support for Najib)," he said.
He cited the Teoh Beng Hock case as an example.
"Najib had said that there was no need for a Royal Commission of Inquiry because an inquest had been carried out… but when a by-election came, such a commission was announced and all including (MCA president) Chua Soi Lek said it was good because he (Najib) loves the people and wants to know the truth.
"So that is what we call 'kupsit sama' because there is no honesty in it. We don't want this. We want a state-federal cooperation," said Yong.
On illegal immigrants, he said the issue had been repeatedly raised in the State Legislative Assembly and Parliament, but the Umno-led government was unsupportive despite its obvious importance.
"Have you heard anyone from Umno talk about this problem? Have you heard PAS talk about this? In PKR only one or two who are not Muslims (have supported the call)," he said, adding that even Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) was silent.
On the Borneo Agenda and Borneo Alliance objectives, Yong said they (proponents) have to work harder to unify the multiracial population of Sabah.
"If not, the divide-and-rule policy practised by Kuala Lumpur will continue to succeed," he said, adding that the tactic was common in developing nations.
Citing an example, Yong said that when SAPP was still in the BN, a leader from the peninsula came to Sabah and told him: "'We Malays easy to work together with Chinese; in the peninsula Malays and Chinese have worked together like siblings for 50 years; the Kadazans are not easy to work with.
"The same leader then talked to Bernard Dompok (Upko president) and said, 'Tan Sri, we and Kadazan are Bumiputeras. The Chinese are not good.
"'In the Peninsula, the five million Chinese want so many things… We Bumiputeras need to be united.'
"Bernard Dompok and I are buddies. He told me what had happened, and I also told him what the leader told me… but many in Sabah feel trapped by this tactic, which will result in the people fighting among themselves," he said.
Yong added that such tactics were still prevalent in Malaysian politics.
"How do we overcome this? We need to avoid falling into this trap.
"We can belong to different parties, different non-governmental organisations, but we must have the same struggle," he said. (By Dominic Legeh)