In the next ten years, development will become the main political issue with different social groups demanding their share of the Sabah growth story.

The clearest evidence that the political paradigm is changing came from Musa Aman’s sweeping victory in the 2008 Sabah assembly elections. He cooked up a storm with a development plank that pushed traditional politics, both of patronage and identity, to the margins of irrelevance and gave him numbers that all political leaders dream of but rarely get.

It was a personal triumph for Musa Aman but the real significance of his win lies in what it says about the emergence of development as a key political issue in today’s Sabah.  So when the Sabah 2012 Budget was unveiled, it was the Biggest Ever budget in the history of Sabah and it amounted to RM4.048 billion, recording an increase of RM979.62 million or 31.92% as compared with the 2011 Budget of RM3.068 Billion, and this increase is all to be spent on development of the state. With the economy projected to continue growing at between 5-9% annually over the next decade, there is every reason to believe that development and governance issues will increasingly dominate public discourse with different social groups demanding their share of the GDP pie.

The Barisan National party’s politics of patronage of vote banks had currency in an underdeveloped economy. Race and religion-based identity politics took over as the process of economic and social empowerment began with the opening up of the economy.

Today, after a period of rapid growth, politics is set to enter another phase, which is likely to be defined by battles for a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources. The lessons from Sabah are slowly being assimilated. Musa Aman’s mastery over the emerging new idiom reaped him huge electoral dividends.

Now Sarawak’s  Taib Muhamud is seeking to emulate Musa Aman as he scrambles to set his house in order before the 13th General Elections although he just won the Sarawak state polls, but losing much support in the urban areas. Like Musa Aman next door, he too is concentrating his energies on targeted development projects for marginalized native communities. Dayak villages are at the top of his list, but he is also trying to ensure that roads, electricity, water, schools and primary health care centers reach areas populated by extremely backward natives and minorities.

In fact, Sarawak’s utilization record of funds allocated for development of minority concentration districts is one of the best just like Sabah — almost 60%.

It is important to understand the nature of the development politics taking shape.

It’s not just a simple matter of building roads or providing electricity. The question to which voters are demanding an answer is: development for whom?

Musa Aman’s success lay in the focused manner in which he took development to different social groups to create a wider constituency beyond the narrow race and religion base. This is identity politics of a different kind in which mobilization is not merely on the basis of race and religion but also on economic, gender and age subgroups.

The coming decade will see an acceleration of the factors responsible for altering the political dynamics in the country. The three important ones are the mainstreaming of marginalized social groups, the communications revolution and increasing urbanization.

The biggest success of Sabah democracy has been empowerment of natives and communities that existed outside the social pale. The spread of adult franchise, a series of affirmative steps like communal land titles, a slew of welfare measures and the growth of market forces are changing the feudal nature of social and economic relations. The rise of native-based parties like PBS, UPKO, PBRS  and even the spread of Jeffrey Kitingan’s STAR Sabah chapter which is allign to Sarawak’s State Reform Party and Jeffrey’s own UBF (United Borneo Front) which promotes the Borneo Agenda, are all signs that those at the bottom are demanding to be heard.

Besides, increasing connectivity in Sabah and Sarawak has only strengthened the process of empowerment. Mobile phone connections have already zoomed beyond 3 million and are expected to cross 5 million by 2015 in Borneo States, while internet penetration, according to industry estimates, will cross the 60% mark by 2020. It means people in every corner of the Borneo States are rapidly getting connected and acquiring independent means of accessing information. It also means that voters can no longer be fooled by mere rhetoric and empty promises. They want delivery and are acquiring the means to monitor it.

The third factor, urbanization, has the potential to take politics beyond race to include class. More than one third of the population is likely to be living in cities and towns by 2020 and their concerns and issues will be shaped by their urban environment and the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, between those who live in gated communities and drive shiny, big cars and those who live in kampongs without basic civic amenities and have to make do with shoddy public transport.

A transforming Sabah means a changing polity. Those who keep pace with the times will emerge as the powerhouses while others will fall behind. The visible process of fragmentation into subgroups, subregions and subcultures gives regional forces an advantage over national parties which have to work with a larger canvas.

Regional satraps like Musa Aman or Taib Muhamud or Pairin Kitingan or even Jeffrey Kitingan (except Jeffrey Kitingan, while the rest who despite belonging to the Barisan National are really regional chieftains) are better connected to the grassroots. They also have the flexibility to knit together an electorally successful social alliance specific to their state without having to worry about the bigger national picture.

The Barisan National was compelled by local Sarawak considerations to allow scam-hit Taib Mahmud to continue as chief minister even as it fought a high-pitched battle over corruption allegations during the recent Sarawak state elections 2011. Taib’s victory underlines the continuing relevance of the satraps.

The Barisan National Sarawak in its glory days was an umbrella party of strong regional leaders. Its decay began when Taib Mahmud started cutting them down one by one till the Chinese based SUPP party stood decimated as can be seen in the recent Sarawak State polls 2011. Today, regional chieftains have created their own political units while Baru Bian and Wong Ho Leng survive in national party like the PKR and DAP only because they have been given almost complete autonomy.

Yet, as Musa Aman understood and as Taib Mahmud seems to be realizing, regional leaders have to expand their political horizons beyond race and religious identities to remain on top. They have to put together broader social coalitions while national parties will have to put aside their dreams of single-party rule and contend with political coalitions to run Putrajaya. This is one reality that is unlikely to go away even as the political frame expands to include issues of development and governance and Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Illegals getting Malaysian Identity Cards to become voters.

Past tense In politics, every player works and waits for a big moment. A real leader emerges when there is perfect harmony between his ideas and the people’s mood. But, at some point, he has to fade away. The leaders who make desperate attempts to cling to their receding turf often face humiliation. Taib Mahmud, once the giant of Sarawak politics, was rejected by the urbanites and even in one or two rural constituencies in the recent Sarawak State Elections 2011.

So, lets see what is there in the cards come the 13th General Election which should take place anytime before March 2013, and, with Anwar Ibrahim now acquitted from sodomy2 charges, things might move quite differently.

Comments
  1. Bei Soo Lang says:

    To: All Sabahans
    From : Queen Counsel for criminal sexual cases Siew Yin Luan at Tel : 0321663384
    Agenda : Bring your abominable snowman lewyer back to the peaks of Mount Kinabaluto retire to his cave.The snow around him will melt immediately under PR government.
    He is prosecuting and appealing an impossible to happen anal sex case.
    Analysis : A normal healthy boy will start to get a full and strong penis erection at the age between 12 to 16 years.By the age of age 62 a man can still get an erection but it would be a very weak and soft erection.It is because the tissues,muscles and blood vessels has grown weak, soft and worn down over the years.The penis would be standing up at 10 clock position when it is fully erected.He would have an old wife who has given birth to 8 children.It would be easy and possible fo him to put the weakly erected penis into her weak muscled and enlarged vaginal cavity.
    In this case here we have a young man of 24 years old.He would have a very tight anus ringed by strong and young circular muscles.If the 62 years old man with the weak penis tries to push the penis into the tight anus cavity.The penis will be bend to the 7 oclock position.There would be no penetraion.It is an impossible case under the laws of human bodies.
    Under CPC for sexual cases,if a 62 years old man is arrested for alleged anal rape.
    1) He would have to take a erection test.The guy would surely fail from millions of record case over the years.
    2) The urologist who is a specialist in male sexual organs can testify the impossibilty of the penis of a 62 years old man penetrating the tight anus of a 24 years old man.
    3) We can find so many old prostitudes working the the bars in all the red lighted districts.They have have handled tens of thousands of male penis in their sex careersThey have all said to me the impossibilty of a 62 years old man having a penis hard enough to penetrate the tight anus of a 24 year old man.Come to my office at 17 th Floor,Wisma MCA.Jalan Ampang to view the evidences.

    Such a case can only be prosecuted by THe Abominable Snowman of Mount Kinabalu.

    Like

  2. OnDaStreet says:

    “A real leader emerges when there is perfect harmony between his ideas and the people’s mood”

    A real leader also rises in midst of chaos and lead to betterment and harmony…

    Keep on writing good articles.

    ~ OnDaStreet
    http://ondastreet.wordpress.com

    Like

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sabah, a Negara -not Negri-with the most natural resourses BUT is the poorest ? Mr Somiah I challenge you to explain this phenonemon. In fact I challenge Musa Aman to explain this indisputable fact !

    Like

  4. martycruz says:

    although development has always been a major issue in this state by any political opposition parties, but if they do not have consensus to have straight fight with BN in the next general election, I’m sure that they will never have a chance to rule this state.

    Like

  5. joyah says:

    Being in Sabah for the past 50 years, what can I say is the politic scene in Sabah is getting blurry.

    Like

  6. Adam says:

    PRU13 pasti satu saingan giat bagi BN tambahan dengan parti baru yang ditubuhkan.

    Like

  7. Bimal says:

    BN harus menukar strategy untuk meletakkan calon muka baru.

    Like

  8. Ameerul says:

    Rakyat yang akan memberi jawapan kepada semua parti siapa yang layak memimpin negeri Sabah.

    Like

  9. Don says:

    Musa Aman had did a great job to Sabah as compare other CM. More hard work needed.

    Like

  10. Elesha says:

    Bujet 2012 pasti mendatangkan perubahan ekonomi yang pesat.

    Like

  11. Nelson says:

    Sabah tidak harus negeri termiskin dengan sumber semulajadi yang begitu lumayan.

    Like

  12. John Babagon says:

    HOI selvarajah aka KALING…. another ampu Bodek punya artikelMASIH PUJI PUJI si MUSA pushtuni…tapi soalan pokok kau tak pun jawab, kau kata irrelevant ke tapi sebenar, sesuatu yang kau tak dapat jawab kerana fakta, kamu punya hanya sandiwara saja…saya ulang soalan…. BUDGET paling besar $4 billion…. BULLSHIT kerana soalan ini tak dapat dijawap..1. darimana punca 4 billion itu?2. development apa, untuk siapa dan siapa yg melaksanakannya? kontraktor siapa atau kroni siapa atau waris siapa?3. mana sudah hasilnya seperti hasil budget yang tahun lalu punya?4 . apa manfaat kepada rakyat, siapa yang menikmati manfaat nya…. golongan mana, masyarakat mana, apa bukti nya? mana laporan audit bagi tahun yang lalu punya?5. pembangunan, mana senarai projeknya? siapa dapat projek itu?…

    Like

  13. Hului says:

    Kita aka lihat sendiri nanti pilihanraya 13 nanti. Kerana semua jawapan ada pada PRU tersebut. Mungkin Datuk Musa Aman perlu terus memberikan lebih terbaik daripada sekarang ini.

    Like

  14. illya says:

    with the biggest ever budget in the history of Sabah, I’m sure that Sabah will achieve more success this year.

    Like

  15. adam says:

    as for 13th GE, please vote wisely..

    Like

  16. adam says:

    hopefully the govt will continuously do their good efforts to develop sabah more in this year..

    Like

  17. yanto@gmail.com says:

    setiap orang ada pilihan mereka. nilailah dengan sebaiknya dan buatlah pilihan yang tepat. semoga Sabah akan terus membangun.

    Like

  18. yaya says:

    PIlihlah Parti yang benar2 dapat membantu rakyat..bukan cuma tau cakap kosong saja.

    Like

  19. owie says:

    Harap bajet 2012 dapat digunakan dengan betul tanpa sebarang penyelewengan.

    Like

  20. kenny says:

    Walaupun banyak parti baru, BN tetap terbaik.

    Like

  21. marry says:

    CM kita telah banyak membantu Sabah untuk sampai ke tahap ini.. harap 2012 akan lebih banyak pembangunan terutamanya luar bandar.

    Like

  22. lisa says:

    Semua terletak di tangan rakyat.. mereka yang menentukan siapa yg akan memerintah negeri sabah.

    Like

  23. antap says:

    rakyat akan menentukan parti mana yang akan memimpin mereka.

    Like

  24. antap says:

    2012 adalah tahun yang bakal menjadikan Sabah lebih maju dan membangun.

    Like

  25. carnation says:

    This is what is called “politics”.No party is perfect. who is going to win ? Only God knows.
    Yes, Sabah is still in the development stages and it continue to be in the year 2012.
    Our CM is a good entrepreuner and a capable leader to lead the state. However, there are areas which need to fine tune to the needs of the rural people.

    Like

  26. Pemerhati says:

    There will always be one side that supports MA and vice versa. As long as MA does his job successfully, many people will support him.

    Like

  27. Pemerhati says:

    Development in rural and urban areas should be balanced. Everybody has the rights to get its benefits.

    Like

  28. Jill says:

    Good luck to all parties.

    Like

  29. Jill says:

    sabah’s future is in the people’s hand. Vote wisely!

    Like

  30. Jill says:

    Most importantly, i hope that sabah will be able to be on par with the west malaysia states.

    Like

  31. Jill says:

    But i hope with the big budget that sabah is given, 2012 will be a good year for sabah.

    Like

  32. Jill says:

    every step the government make, the people is watching closely. One wrong step, and the people might use that reason to not vote for the government.

    Like

  33. winnie says:

    Yang penting sekarang semua pihak harus mainkan peranan masing-masing dan buatlah apa yang dirasakan harus dibuat.

    Like

  34. winnie says:

    Harap saja rakyat akan buat pilihan yang tepat supaya takda penyesalan di kemudian hari:)

    Like

  35. winnie says:

    Kemenangan parti adalah ditangan rakyat jadi sampai masanya nanti kita juga tu siapa yang akan jadi pilihan rakyat.

    Like

  36. Paquin says:

    Semoga 2012 akan jadi tahun yang lebih buat Sabah dan setiap plan kerajaan utk membangunkan negeri ini lebih berjalan lancar.

    Like

  37. Paquin says:

    Saya cuma harap ekonomi Sabah akan terus membangun.

    Like

  38. richstuelgal says:

    Dear Mr. Somiah, there seem to be a disconnect in your assessment and glorification of Musa Aman’s achievement(s) in Sabah. No need to put in all the economic indicators -these can be manipulated. And indications are there indeed are. Besides who are these people who you claim to have benifitted from the “developments” ?

    If he is such a success, how come the very people he claims to be representing are still living in abject poverty. Sabahans youths are leaving in great numbers to go else where for menial employment. The roads juust merely 15 miles from the urban center are in a deplorable conditions. Water and electricty is still lacking in many villages. What has he done about the influx of illegal immigrants ? What has he done to help the security of the people ? Crime has increased many fold without any indication of getting any better. I rest my case.

    Like

  39. lina a says:

    walau bagaimanapun, kemenangan sesebuah parti itu semuanya di tangan rakyat

    Like

  40. lina a says:

    parti-parti baru yang tumbuh seperti cendawan tentunya tidak akan menang begitu mudah kerana sudah tentu rakyat tidak mungkin terpedaya dengan janji-janji manis mereka

    Like

  41. lina a says:

    jika tidak, sudah tentu parti gabungan BN tidak akan mendapat sokongan padu dari penduduk ini bila tiba musim PRU-13 nanti

    Like

  42. lina a says:

    apa yang penting, suara rakyat Sabah terutamanya penduduk dari pendalaman tidak harus diabaikan oleh kerajaan negeri

    Like

  43. lina a says:

    siapa yang akan menang semuanya di tangan rakyat Sabah untuk menentukannya

    Like

  44. shawn says:

    The choice is in the people’s hand….

    Like

  45. walao says:

    Diharapkan kerajaan Sabah dan pemimpin kita akan teruskan usaha untuk membawa Sabah ke arah kemajuan dan pembagunan. Selamat memperjuangkan kebaikan rakyat dan negeri.

    Like

  46. p.s.nathan. says:

    You have failed to address the Burning Issue of ‘Project I/C’ in Sabah that might indeed p[lay a decisive role in the coming elections.

    nathan.

    Like

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