Updated 2.44pm, 5 May 2009
KOTA KINABALU, 5 May 2009: Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Raymond Tan will join Gerakan, after being without a party for almost nine months.
Gerakan national chairperson Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon made the announcement minutes before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s arrival for the meet-the-people session at the Padang Merdeka here today.
Former Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) Youth chief and state assemblyperson for Elopura Au Kam Wah also made a similar commitment.
Koh thanked Tan and Au for choosing Gerakan as the political platform to continue their struggle with the Barisan Nasional (BN) and said that both would hand over their application forms to Gerakan soon.
“We welcome their commitment to join Gerakan. Raymond and Au have been my friends and Gerakan’s friends for over 15 years and have jointly struggled for Sabahans and Malaysians in general within the BN,” he said.
He said their decision was apt and understandable as Gerakan was a multiracial party and its door was always open to Malaysians.
He said Najib, as BN chairperson, and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman had been informed of Tan and Au’s decision and had given their blessing.
Asked whether Tan, former deputy president of SAPP, would be given a post in Gerakan, Koh said that he would make the announcement at the appropriate time.
Speaking to reporters later, Tan said: “I have chosen Gerakan because Gerakan is a safe home and it is the home that I have been looking for.”
“I didn’t do it just because I picked what I like. I think it’s more of what the grassroots want. It doesn’t matter what happens to me. What is important is the people who have been with me and I told that I would find them a home.
“It’s not easy because we have to talk to so many component party leaders and all of them are very supportive of me. I think this is the time that I have to make a decision and Tan Sri (Koh Tsu Koon) is no stranger to us for many years,” he said.
Asked on the call for him to relinquish his deputy chief minister’s post, he said: “These people who make statements against me or who are angry with me will probably continue to do but it doesn’t matter. I understand their feelings but it’s more important that they understand me.”
Tan, who is also state Infrastructure Development minister, became partyless after SAPP left the BN coalition on 17 Sept last year.
Prior to this, several parties had called on Tan to quit his posts as deputy chief minister and Infrastructure Development minister.
Even Umno leaders like Kalabakan MP Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh had hinted that the BN had never agreed to have independent BN supporters.
At the same time, the option of forming a new party raised objections from the same component parties who were not in favour of Tan being retained in the cabinet, leaving him with very few political options. — Bernama