PERCEPTIONS may vary on the balance of power in Sabah’s political arena and the outcome of the impending elections, 60 state seats and 25 parliamentary seats are up for grabs, but observers as well as practitioners of different brands of politics agree on one thing: that elections, scheduled to be held soon, could well be the most significant in the history of Sabah in the past two decades. They have arrived at this conclusion after studying the situation from their own view points.

According to Chief Minister Musa Aman and the Barisan National led by him, Sabah has witnessed a social, political and economic paradigm shift in the last eight years under his rule. Musa Aman contends that this shift will be reflected in new political parameters with development as the key factor, pushing aside considerations based on Kuala Lumpur’s dominance and interference that have for decades dominated the State’s electoral politics.The Barisan National’s coalition partners in the state, largely shares this perception, though some sections in the party are sceptical.

The Pakatan Rakyat and the SAPP led by Taiko Yong Teck Lee, which constitute the main opposition, dismiss the “paradigm shift” premise as baseless and assert that these elections will, as always, be dominated by “Sabah For Sabahan” (Sabah Rights) sentiments and community considerations and illegal immigrants.

“Sabah for Sabahan” sentiments and illegal immigrants, of course, have traditionally dominated elections in Sabah. Elections have been fought and won on the basis of careful manoeuvreing of “Sabah for Sabahan” sentiments coupled with some deft social engineering via illegal immgrants. This time, however, a significant number of political activists and observers agree with the Chief Minister’s assessment. Governance under the Barisan National government in the past eight years, they say, has changed society and politics in the State, allowing the urge for “development” to sideline “Sabah for Sabahan” considerations.

At a ceramah recently, Musa Aman said: “In the past eight years, the whole political grammar of Sabah has changed. The beginnings of the same were seen even in the 2008 polls when Sabahans decidedly voted for a change and gave Barisan National 59 State seats out of the 60 State seats and 24 Parliament seats out of 25. Over the past eight years, more and more sections of society have joined that process on account of the policies and governance we had adopted and the net result has been the concretisation of the change in political grammar.” He added that despite this obvious change, his principal adversaries, Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang and Taiko Yong Teck Lee and even Chong Kah Kiat now, were clinging to the “old syllabus” based on sentiments, confrontation, race permutations and combinations. “They will soon be brought to realisation with a thud,” he said.

A large number of people in and outside the State endorse his view. They believe that development has been brought firmly on the State’s radar and that nobody would want to upset that. However, the other side sees the Chief Minister’s claims as just so much rhetoric. For Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang and Taiko Yong Teck Lee, the “development” story is a creation of a pliant media rather than a realistic assessment of the situation on the ground.

As for the UMNO, which heads the ruling Barisan National at the Centre, it is ready to admit that the State has witnessed better development under Musa Aman than under earlier governments since 1963. But it asserts that this was made possible by the substantial funds that Kuala Lumpur made available, the political stability and the security factor “The Feds” has provided his government.

Several other significant issues are expected to come into play in the run-up to and elections and during the polling process. One of these is the so-called political magic of Musa Aman and its impact on the Barisan National’s prospects. Musa Aman was credited with being the man behind Barisan National’s reasonably good performance in the Batu Sapi Parliamentary elections recently. Was that a flash in the pan? Or does the scion of the PBS, Pairin Kitingan have a real hold on the people in Batu Sapi?, just a joke! Jokes aside, a poor performance by the Barisan National in the Batu Sapi Parliamentary elections would have put question mark on Musa’s ability, but no, he got full marks.

Clearly, the stakes are high for all the players. Shafie Apdal – form a third factor in the equation and have pockets of limited influence in different parts of the State because in his own Semporna he is seen as a failure. Shafie served as Member of Parliament since 1995, appointed Deputy Minister of Housing and Local Government on 1999, and then moved to Defence Ministry, and then was appointed Minister of Domestic, Trade and Consumer Affairs on 2004, and then Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage and now Minister of Rural and Regional Development, but no real development is seen in Semporna up to now. Semporna is still lagging in infrastructures and economic opportunities and in many places the roads are in a deplorable condition and illegals from Southern Philippines dominate the town, in spite of Shafie having high powered position in Kuala Lumpur since 1995.

Meanwhile, the principal players are pursuing their respective agendas before the election dates are announce, albeit with some clever nuancing. While Musa Aman swears by the new development-oriented agenda, he has also roped in leaders with overt race and community appeal, such as former Chief Minister Salleh Said Keruak, another former Chief Minister and PBS supremo Pairin Kitingan and intellectual Dr Yee Moh Chai. Taiko Yong Teck Lee has not compromised on his “Sabah for Sabahan” sentiments and inducted former USNO leader Tun Mustapha’s son Datu Baharudin and one time Umno leader and assistant state minister Nahalan Damsal, belonging to the Suluk community.

The Barisan National’s campaign thrust will be the perceptible changes in the State, especially improvement in the law and order situation, continuously deporting illegals across the State. The number of cases of kidnapping in the East-coast of Sabah, which had acquired the status of an industry during the 9 years of PBS rule, has gone down considerably. The sprucing up of the infrastructure, including road connectivity, and the strengthening of the health care and educational systems will also be highlighted. There have been also some appointments, including ones aimed at empowering women, and the Native Communities given greater opportunities through jobs in local bodies. The Chief Minister’s personal integrity will be a significant part of this campaign and he projected as a visionary capable of steering Sabah into a prosperous future.

Musa Aman’s development credentials and his Muslim support base will presumably dictate his stance.

The opposition parties, meanwhile, have their own political dynamics. The DAP has to be generous to the SAPP by according it more state seats. The opposition’s basic calculation is race-oriented. It hopes to ride on the Chinese votes, the USNO vote base, the new-found attraction of Internet/FaceBook voters and woo a section of the native vote base of the Barisan National and also Muslims.

Musa Aman hopes to repeat the 2008 result in spite of the SAPP/ Pakatan Rakyat alliance in the making. His contention is that this election will not be about “Sabah for Sabahan” arithmetic but about the hopes and aspirations of Sabahans.

Comments
  1. amir says:

    Harap nasib Sabah akan diperbaiki selepas ini. Berjuanglah demi negeri kita yang tercinta.

    Like

  2. R.S.Galid, USA says:

    Mr. Somiah, I beg to differ with your opinion of so called “development” in Sabah. The building of Infrastructures and buildings does not constitute progress taken from the human development perspective. . The more pertinent statistics are along the lines of the poverty index, job index, property ownership index and health of the population for a start. The last I heard, many of these so called project remain uncompleted because of rampant corruption. In other words, these so called development projects are no more than a vehicle for the people in power like Musa Aman( before that, Tun Mustapha and Harris salleh) and their cronies/supporters to siphon money form the State coffers. The other issue of paramount importance FOR SABAHANS is the security situation in the State. Today, the crime rate has never been higher. Murder and kidnappings happen almost daily. What has UMNO/Musa Aman done to alleviate the situation ? Sabahan youths, especially rural youths , have been marginalised and ignored. I even have a very strong suspeccion that they have been offered drugs by UMNO’S agents. Because you see, it only takes one generation to be “killed off” to enhance the ruling powers to further consolidate its position. Therefore, there are always more than 2 sides to the coin. What is development and “stability” to one side is infact a “slow death” by the other side. In a nut shell. this is what is happenning in Sabah today.

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  3. mee says:

    Sabah faces a lot of challenges since old days.

    Like

  4. martycruz says:

    I’m sure BN will remain in power as opposition parties in Sabah only care about their party’s interests rather than the interests of the people. they are not seriously fight for the people..

    Like

  5. Yoyo says:

    Bersatulah wahai party Sabah.. Semoga mereka memperjuangkan hak dan pembangunan untuk Sabah.

    Like

  6. ferlo says:

    kita harus memberi sokongam kepada pemimpin kita dalam usahanya membangunkan negeri kita.

    Like

  7. ferlo says:

    Sabah semakin berkembang d bawah kepimpinan Musa.

    Like

  8. adam says:

    sama ada BN negeri akan menang atau tidak, ianya terpulang kepada prestasi dan sejauh mana konsep rakyat didahulukan, pencapaian diutamakan dilaksanakan dalam menyelesaikan isu2 rakyat,.

    Like

  9. adam says:

    adakah BN sabah akan dapat mengulangi kejayaan seperti pada PRU tahun 2008?

    Like

  10. mike says:

    hopefully sabah will be more develop in the future..

    Like

  11. mike says:

    well, its true that under musa administration, sabah are now more develop than before..

    Like

  12. Jim says:

    “Musa Aman hopes to repeat the 2008 result in spite of the SAPP/ Pakatan Rakyat alliance in the making. His contention is that this election will not be about “Sabah for Sabahan” arithmetic but about the hopes and aspirations of Sabahans. ”

    We’ll see bout it.

    Like

  13. Bei Soo Lang says:

    Under BN government Foreign money no come to Sabah.Foreign prostitudes came to Sabah.
    Write freely under email: beisoolang@gmail.com
    Malaysia is not only a destination country but a source and transit country for trafficked persons including those forced into prostitution, sex slavery, sex vacations, labour, domestic servitude and adoption, among others.

    MCPXThis is the picture that re-emerges from preliminary estimates in an on-going church study which indicate that there are somewhere between 30,000 and 32,000 trafficked persons in Sabah alone based on the official figures of 600,000 to 800,000 migrant workers in the state.

    “Women and girls are brought in from the Philippines, for instance, to Labuan and then to Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Kuala Lumpur,” said Tenaganita’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Programme Officer, Lee Soo Choo.

    “Young girls are trafficked for prostitution not only in brothels but also in karaokes, KTVs, golf clubs, resorts, condominiums, 5-star hotels, restaurants and massage parlours.”

    “Due to raids, traffickers are using catalogues for their customers while girls are sent by taxis to hidden locations.”

    Tenaganita is collaborating with the church group in Kota Kinabalu, the Archdiocesan Human Development Committee (AHDC), on the human trafficking study. Tenaganita has also been conducting field assessments since December last year of Indonesian migrant workers working as domestics and in plantations and factories in Kota Kinabalu and Tawau.

    AHDC is also working closely with the Jakarta office of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) on the study.

    Five urban centres are being covered in the study viz Kota Kinabalu, Keningau, Sandakan, Tawau and Lahad Datu and a clearer picture is expected to emerge when it is completed.

    “The study is part of the Cross-Border Counter-Trafficking Project 2008-2009,” said Dominic Lim who heads the AHDC. “Tenaganita’s field surveyors have gone down to the ground to interview migrants from neighbouring countries.”

    ‘Held in slave-like conditions’

    Included in the AHDC study is data from an ICMC assessment from August last year in Nunukan, an Indonesian island off Tawau.

    The assessment found that 5.1 per cent of a random sampling of 360 persons interviewed, 80 per cent women, were held in “slave-like” conditions at least until their debts were settled, salary deductions as a punitive measure was common and violence was employed when workers tried to leave.

    The assessment did not cover women forced into brothel-based prostitution or those working in the peripheries of the commercial sex sector such as beer promotion girls, bar hostesses, karaoke singers and masseurs.

    “Trafficking must be distinguished from smuggling of migrants,” said ICMC senior manager, Abhijit Dasgupta, who oversaw the Nunukan assessment. “While trafficking may include a complex organisation of contracts, smuggling of people refers solely to unlawful border-crossing services.”

    “Domestic workers, women in prostitution, plantation workers and bar hostesses in Malaysia carry higher risks of being trafficked.”

    This is a view endorsed by the mother-founder of the Bukit Harapan home in Kota Kinabalu, Mama Anne Keyworth.

    “I know a Filipina married to an African and they recruit Filipinas as young as 14 with the promise of good job opportunities with lucrative earnings in Sabah,” said Keyworth. “Instead, these girls were cheated and forced to work as prostitutes in Labuan.”

    “Another couple with links to an international syndicate would choose the best-looking Filipinas for clients abroad.”

    Keyworth has also come across a Filipina, the second wife of an aide to a local politician, who helps to get the passes of Filipinas extended in Labuan before facilitating their travel to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for vice.

    “It is so disappointing that the authorities allow this Filipina’s recruitment agency to extend the permits of these women so that she can recruit them for business in the Middle East,” said Keyworth.

    She has apparently since passed all the information she has to the Immigration Department in Kota Kinabalu and the Sabah Commissioner of Police, Noor Rashid Ibrahim, who “has been very co-operative”.

    Forced into prostitution

    Flesh trading and drugs go hand-in-hand, points out Keyworth, whose home provides temporary shelter for victims of human trafficking.

    Keyworth adds that there is also a local dimension to the human trafficking problem.

    “Recruitment agents or their runners would look for potential victims in Keningau, Tambunan and Tenom,” she said. “These agents would even see the parents to convince them of good job opportunities for their children in Singapore.”

    “There are also agents who convince the parents to pay for the airfare, passport and work permits. Once their children reach Singapore, another group will take over and force them into prostitution. They are well-guarded and their earnings seized from them.”

    While there are numerous estimates on the number of documented and undocumented migrant workers in Sabah and Malaysia, there are no estimates on TIP (Trafficking in Persons).

    The placement of migrant workers are merely categorised under the formal sector viz construction, agriculture and plantation and informal sector i.e. domestic work, restaurants, cafes and karaoke bars.

    The best estimate the AHDC has is a 2003 report by the Indonesian Ministry of Women’s Empowerment which claimed that nearly 5,000 Indonesian women have been trafficked for prostitution to Sabah alone.

    Last year, Tenaganita rescued 119 foreign girls from forced prostitution, of whom 62 were found in Sabah and another 19 in Sarawak.

    The girls were rescued from Kota Kinabalu, Labuan, Sandakan and Keningau in Sabah and Limbang in Sarawak,

    Overall Indonesian estimates, from the Ministry of Manpower and Kopbumi (Consortium for the Defence of Indonesian Migrant Workers), put documented and undocumented Indonesian workers alone in Malaysia at between 1.5 million and 3.5 million.

    Malaysia passed the Anti-Human Trafficking Bill in 2007. The Act was gazetted in July 2007 and enforced at the end of February last year. Under the law, those convicted are liable to a minimum three years jail, not exceeding 20 years in jail and may be fined anything between RM50,000 and RM 500,000.

    So far, only two persons have been charged. This includes one whose case has not been heard yet and another who has been jailed for eight years.

    Malaysia is also a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. The convention has two important protocols on human trafficking

    Like

  14. Kris Jr says:

    All the best to Musa

    Like

  15. amir says:

    Semoga Sabah akan diselamatkan.

    Like

  16. Anonymous says:

    bullshit bn dog

    Like

  17. nathan says:

    To add, to strengthen Musa Aman’s position in the State, the New Director General of Health is for the first time a Sabahan, who was a medical Officer of Health in Keningau before moving to Peninsular Malayasia for the last 20 years or so.
    Hopefully this will result in some real improvements in the Healkth Status of Sabahans, which has been long overdue!

    Like

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