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June 19, 2008

Malaysian coalition party calls for no-confidence vote
A party in Malaysia's ruling coalition called Wednesday for a vote of no confidence against the prime minister, in a serious blow to the beleaguered government.

Sabah Progressive Party president Yong Teck Lee demanded major concessions from the government, and said the party would decide on Friday whether to quit the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

He left open the prospect of joining the opposition alliance led by former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, who has ambitions of forming a new administration with the help of defecting government lawmakers.

"We have lost confidence in the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi," he was quoted by AFP as telling a press conference.

"Whoever would agree with our issues here we will work with, inside and outside of Sabah," he added.

Abdullah has been fighting for his political survival since March general elections that saw the opposition gain unprecedented results, including a third of parliamentary seats and control of five states.

A recent 41 percent petrol price hike, which has triggered widespread outrage and public protests, has made his position even more tenuous.

Yong attacked the Barisan Nasional's record in the impoverished state on Borneo island, saying it had been subject to unfair laws and excessive taxes.

"That is why we need an immediate declaration of no confidence in the PM and the government, to tell the BN government that we can no longer tolerate their insensitive attitude towards the Sabah issues that are real and serious."

"We will be discussing our status to remain in BN at our party headquarters meeting on Friday," he said, listing demands including the diversion of energy revenues coming from the resource-rich state.

"With our political move today, SAPP hereby initiates the political process to claim 20 percent in oil royalties, which is after all the natural resources of Sabah," he said.

"We must make a stand before the window of opportunity closes," he said, raising the prospect of a no-confidence vote when the new parliamentary session opens on Monday.

"Unfair federal laws, excessive taxes and structural imbalances in the economy will remain entrenched. Sabah will remain the poorest state, subservient to the central leadership," he said.

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