KOTA KINABALU: Parti Pejuang Tanah Air is in talks with parties from both sides of the divide in its bid to stake a claim in Sabah's political pie.
Pejuang president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir said they are open to working with bigger parties affiliated with the government as well as the smaller ones who have not even contested in any election.
"But at this moment, we are still at the discussion stage, not even the negotiation phase," he told reporters at a hotel here on Saturday (May 21).
"We have to admit that the opposition (in Sabah) is not only crowded but also fragmented, and we have yet to find a common cause, unlike what we have achieved during the 14th general election (GE14).
"But notwithstanding that, we continue to have discussions with literally all parties. At this moment, everyone is talking to everyone else to see whether there is some formula that we could achieve."
Mukhriz said this formula was important in order to ensure all the parties who decide to work together can win in the GE15.
"But I think the general feeling is to find a general formula that can reduce the political temperature which is still very high at the moment.
"In any case, what's really important to us is that whoever we want to work with must share our principles," he said.
The Jerlun MP said they have met with the smaller parties in Sabah and will be moving on to the larger ones soon.
"Right now, I don't see anyone not wanting to see us. Everyone is quite open about this and there's nothing wrong about it. It's just exploring possibilities," he said.
Mukhriz is in the state capital for a Pejuang leadership retreat. which ended today.
He also announced that the party's official launching, which was earlier scheduled for Sunday (May 22), will be postponed to another date that will be announced in due time.
This is because Pejuang chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had to attend the Nikkei Conference in Tokyo, Japan.
To a question on Pejuang's challenging task to win over supporters in the state, Mukhriz said that issues close to the hearts of Sabahans and Sarawakians like the Malaysia Agreement 1963 have been deeply debated in the Dewan Rakyat.
He said MPs from the government and opposition have also voted in favour for the Federal Constitution to be amended to benefit both the states.
"So this proves that issues close to the people are taken seriously by the MPs, including us (from Pejuang), to the point the amendments received bipartisan support.
"I think that has somewhat reduced the people's grouses over such issues," he said.
In the same breath, Mukhriz however acknowledged Pejuang's challenge in introducing the party to Sabahans.
"We know we are a new party and our logo is not familiar yet in a lot of places in Sabah.
"So it will be our responsibility to explain what the party is fighting for, with hopes that we will win more support before Parliament is dissolved," he said.
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