It was reported that a move is under way to revive the stalled political career of former Sabah chief minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee who lost his Gaya parliamentary and Likas state seats because of an election billboard offence that resulted in him being barred from contesting in elections until 2006.
Federation of Sabah Chinese Associations chairman Datuk Sari Tan is proposing a signature campaign among the state’s Chinese community to seek a royal pardon for Yong, who is also the Sabah Progressive Party president.
“I will propose to the federation’s committee to initiate a state-wide signature campaign to seek a royal pardon for Yong,” he said on 30th January 2004.
Tan said he hoped the campaign would start as soon as possible because they wanted to complete it before the Sabah state elections which are due any time before the expiry of the current state assembly on April 12.
Sari, who also heads the influential Sabah United Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said Yong had contributed much to the state and its Chinese community. He believes Yong's leadership is still needed by Sabah and the Chinese community in particular.
On June 8, 2001, the Election Court declared as null and void the election results for Yong’s Likas state seat after finding him guilty of the election billboard offence.
He filed a series of unsuccessful appeals in the courts. Yong also filed an unsuccessful appeal to the Sabah Yang di-Pertua Negri in September 2002.
The proposal was quickly supported by Kudat Hakka leader, Datuk Wong Phin Chung. Kudat is the strong hold of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President, Datuk Chong Kah Kiat. The other Chinese leaders through out Sabah are expected to come out to support the signature campaign.
An interesting note is that, Sari Tan, who is a Hokkien could never get along with Chong Kah Kiat who is also a Hokkien. Chong has been accused of favouring only the Hokkien and ignoring the Hakka who forms the majority Chinese in Sabah. Sari, being a controversial Chinese leader, chose to support Yong, partly because because Chong was seen too bias and openly take side on Chinese Chamber of Commerce election.
Will Yong Teck Lee be pardoned? How will Chong react to the signature campaign? It will be very interesting to watch. More sipice for the coming election.