This is Part Two in the two part series by our guest columnist Joe Fernandez. See Part 1 here
by Joe Fernandez
ANALYSIS (Part 2) The present BN ruling coalition has less than two-thirds of the seats in the current Parliament. It’s also highly unlikely that any future ruling party, coalition or alliance will achieve the magical two-third position in Parliament.
The Elections Commission, at best, can therefore only re-draw and keep re-drawing the present electoral boundaries for any number of reasons but cannot propose an increase in the number of parliamentary seats unless there is, as stated before, consensus on the issue.
Meanwhile, the parti parti Malaya are already operating in Sabah and Sarawak, positioned to take further advantage of any increase in the number of seats in Parliament. Again, the PSC’s recommendations refer.
The parti parti Malaya are doing this after adding insult to injury by already taking a big chunk of the current 57 seats which Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan have in Parliament.
All this means that the parti parti Malaya are further weakening the position of Sabah and Sarawak in Parliament and at the same time strengthening their position at the expense of the people in the two Malaysian Borneo states.
Enter Star with its 60/26 policy on contesting all seats at stake in Sabah come the 13th GE.
However, the party appears more than willing to accommodate other local parties in the opposition provided they are not in cahoots, for want of a better term, with the so-called parti parti Malaya in Sabah and Sarawak.
Members of these parties are routinely castigated as “traitors” who are ever willing to be proxies and stooges of politicians on the other side of the South China Sea “for the continued enslavement of the people in Malaysian Borneo under Putrajaya’s internal colonization policies” in return for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver.
The publicly expressed willingness on the part of Star is notwithstanding the fact that the young Turks in the party are, in principle, against any form of seat-sharing which mirrors the BN Formula.
The BN Formula, the young Turks argue, circumscribes the democratic process by endorsing elite power-sharing and denying the grassroots meaningful participation in the electoral process.
Accordingly, the young Turks also have quarrels with the BN Concept — pre-polls power-sharing pact — but remain silent on the BN Spirit i.e. arriving at decisions in government, the Cabinet and the legislature by consensus-and-compromise.
Much has been made of the fact that the members and leaders of the parti parti Malaya in Sabah and Sarawak are locals, not Peninsular Malaysians, and hence the thinking that the said parties should be considered “local parties”. It is difficult to accept such perverted logic, according to local parties, unless such parties reportedly incorporate locally, change their names, and have full autonomy from the parent parties in Peninsular Malaysia.
Only genuinely local parties, argue parties like Star, can fight for the rights of Sabah and Sarawak as equals — a legal concept — of Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia) in the Federation of Malaysia as per the 1963 Malaysia Agreement.
Sabah and Sarawak don’t want to be planets revolving around a sun but aspire to be a sun around which other planets revolve.
Sabah and Sarawak being the equals of Malaya can best be seen in the fact that Malaysia has two High Court systems i.e. the High Court of Malaya and the High Court of Borneo with separate jurisdictions. A case in the High Court of Borneo cannot be transferred to the High Court of Malaya and vice versa. Action can be commenced in either Court against anyone no matter where resident.
Both Sabah and Sarawak are the only states to have their own Attorney Generals while Malaysia has one in Putrajaya.
Both Sabah and Sarawak are the only states to have the Ministerial form and system of government, the only other Ministerial form and system being the Federal one in Putrajaya.
The 20 Points related to the Malaysia Agreement clearly states that the head of government in Sabah would be Prime Minister and the Yang di Pertua Negara, the head of state in a secular state constitution. However, these three provisions as many others in the 20 Points are being observed more often than not in the breach.
They retain immigration powers which, in recent years, have been re-defined by administration to mean only the right to deny work permits to Peninsular Malaysians wishing to work in Sabah or Sarawak. Otherwise, both Sabah and Sarawak could impose a blanket ban — instead of on a case by case basis as at present — on politicians from both sides of the divide entering the two states “for the purpose of stealing seats”.
Hence, the oft made argument in Sabah and Sarawak that only local parties can fight for, secure and ensure the rights of the people in the two states.
The suspicion is that the only reason that the parti parti Malaya are in Sabah and Sarawak is to come to power in Putrajaya.
Seizing control of the Federal Government will remain an elusive dream without the parliamentary seats in Sabah and Sarawak. This reflects the reality that politics in Malaysia has irreversibly metamorphosised into a two-party system in Parliament.
The political tsunami of 2008 must be seen as “an Act of God”, truly ushering in “a historical window of opportunity for Sabah and Sarawak”. This fact has been acknowledged by both sides of the political divide in the two states but there has been little, by way of dividends, for BN parties in Sabah and Sarawak. What has been noted is Umno continuing to humour BN parties in Peninsular Malaysia in government, the Cabinet and elsewhere at their expense.
It remains to be seen whether this translates into substantial anti-BN votes come the 13th GE.
Patently, it cannot continue to be business as usual in Sabah and Sarawak.
Many in Malaysian Borneo believe that a 3rd Force in the Malaysian Parliament, to steer evenly between the Barisan Nasional and the Pakatan Rakyat, is a idea whose time has come.
Initially, such a 3rd Force would largely be a part of both the BN and to a lesser extent PR, and at the same time allow the nucleus of such a force to be outside the two Peninsular Malaysia-based national coalitions/alliances.
The nucleus of the 3rd Force is expected, in time, to build a Borneo-based national alliance/coalition to emerge in Parliament for a three-party system.
The Jury in Sabah and Sarawak has decided on the issue.
They have long retired and deliberated on the pros and cons of a two party system vs a three-party system.
They are in favour of a three-party system.
The rationale behind the decision in favour of a three-party is that under a two-party system, Sabah and Sarawak would be merely going from the frying pan (BN) into the fire (PR), — keluar dari mulut harimau, masuk mulut buaya — or at best, from the fire (BN) into the frying pan (PR).
There are those in Sabah and Sarawak, as in Peninsular Malaysia, who beg to disagree with the need for a 3rd Force in Parliament.
Demokrasi Sabah (Desah), a newly set-up NGO headed by former Sabah state secretary Simon Sipaun, wants to ensure one-to-one contests to ensure the further strengthening and entrenchment of the two-party system in Malaysia. Desah wants to put the idea to a test through a series of public debates in Sabah but confined to the opposition parties.
Local opposition parties in Sabah, as in Sarawak, are all for one-to-one contests but draw the line at a two-party system.
Also, they are eager to debate the parti parti Malaya on both sides of the political divide in the state and in neighbouring Sarawak.