The Sabah state assembly elections or the 13th General Elections will be held before March/April 2013. The state is witnessing a political undercurrent in favour of Chief Minister Musa Aman. However, his critics and an analyst like Karim Gani stoutly argue against such a claim. Karim says, “Musa’s charisma may be there, but there is no undercurrent in favour of Musa.”
Here are some pointers favouring Musa Aman:
# Undoubtedly, there is no political leader in Sabah who has been as popular as Musa Aman since its inception in 1963. Musa Aman had charmed the poor and Natives, his influence is not limited in UMNO pockets.
Shafie Apdal is, largely, a Suluk leader and Lajim Ukin is, largely, a Bisaya leader. Both have theirs pockets of influence, but none could match Musa’s clout over young minds and men and women be it in the urban areas or even rural.
In the last five years, after appropriating the Best Chief Minister’s title, Musa has calibrated his communication with people through the language of development. That has clicked with people because the subtext of his act says that under Musa’s rule you could make money and have a comfortable life without many political, communal or social disturbances.
There is madness in crediting Musa Aman for every good thing happening in Sabah. In the last five years, the rains have been good, the KLSE is zooming up, agricultural income is booming and real estate is making middle-class families millionaires. Many middle-class voters say “Musa’s rule is auspicious.”
This shows that people are ready to re-elect Musa Aman. In his statewide meet the people sessions, men, women and youngsters gather to see him. Their faces evoke emotions. They look pleased to see their leader. The relation of trust between Musa Aman and his fans is certainly there.
In Sabah’s political circles, DAP and SAPP compete in the urban areas. Traditionally, they oppose each other with vengeance during election time as seen in the last Batu Sapi Parliamentary by-elections.
So is Datuk Pairin and Dr Jeffrey Kitingan both fighting tooth and nail for the indigenous KDM votes, although Pairin at this moment of time has still got the numbers, but its dwindling. Musa knows this, Musa also knows Pairin is loyal, Musa also knows Pairin is “HUGUAN SIOW” to the KDMs and when push come to shove KDMs will still throw their support to their Paramount Leader.
Musa has transcended political rivalry and is expected to divide them successfully.
Then in Beaufort, as soon as Lajim Ukin declared Musa his enemy, Bisayas and Kadayans thought why strengthen Lajim by backing UMNO rebels? The Former Umno supreme council member Lajim Ukin says he will set up a new political party as a vehicle to field candidates in the upcoming general election. Lajim, had recently announced his resignation as an Umno supreme council member, Beaufort Umno division chief and Beaufort BN chairman with immediate effect and declared his support for Pakatan but remained an Umno member. So funny, people are not stupid, Lajim wants to have his cake and wants to eat it too. Like this, better to trust Musa Aman, the community leaders, both Bisayas and Kadayans argued. The Lajim stance is the only mysterious factor and will be known only after elections.
When the Pakatan argues that Musa’s leadership is not as much identified with the poor, natives as with urban, middle class and upwardly mobile voters of small towns, it is quite unbelievable.
But one can’t ignore the fact that today is Musa moment.
# Musa’s pluses and minuses are the only talking points of this election. Musa, being the experienced and cunning election strategist, has written the role for himself and has won not only his party but has captured the minds of UMNO leaders in Kuala Lumpur and the Prime Minister himself too.
This is the amazing factor of this coming election.
The coming 13 General Elections in Sabah will be known as the Musa versus Musa election. Musa Aman is in the battleground selling his own virtues, while Pakatan Rakyat and all the other wannabe opposition parties in Sabah is moving in lanes and bylanes of Sabah highlighting Musa’s vices, weaknesses and lies.
People are asked to vote for Musa’s virtues or against Musa’s lies. Right now the Musa magic works. Musa has staunchly identified himself with Sabah as Pairin did with Sabah in the 1985. He is raising regional parochialism to new heights by negotiating with the Federal Government for higher oil royalty for the state, getting the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the illegal immigrant to be conducted quickly before the 13th general elections. In fact according to LITTLE BIRD when Premier Najib comes to Sabah tomorrow 1st September 2012, Najib will announce and increase in oil royalty for Sabah. I don’t know for sure how many percent but definitely its going to be more than 10%. This is definitely going to create shock ways if what LITTLE BIRD told me comes true.
# In and around Tawau, and other coastal areas in the east coast a large section of voters believe that during the Musa government they have remained free of Abu Sayyaf and kidnappings. Absence of kidnapping means more tourism related development and more peace of mind for fishermen as safety and security is well taken care of. People here say “Musa means development without fear.”
On other hand, opposition voters, particularly urban opposition voters also acknowledge that when Musa is in the CM seat, it means, “Miscreant is the monitor of our class” and that guarantees peace in Sabah.
Musa unlike the earlier governments has successfully foiled all the kidnapping in the east coast of Sabah. This argument is appreciated by average people and they say previous governments were not been able to stop the kidnappings by Abu Sayyaf in the east coast.
# The Musa government has created the “feel good” factor by giving electricity supply to most homes in Sabah. There is a vital difference between the 2003 situation and now. Of course there is still power cuts but its not as bad as what it was before 2003.
Musa has succeeded in setting up new power plants and have changed infrastructure fundamentals big time. Now with the setting up of Kimanis RM1.5bil gas-fired plant a 300MW power plant to address the power supply issue in the state, things will get even better.
Now, a large number of people do mention that the government has given them uninterrupted electricity. For Musa Aman, whatever good government or its wings have done in the name of development is exclusively credited to “Musa” and is helping him to connect to people at this crucial time.
# In last five years, even the supply system of drinking water has improved. Kampongs do have reliable system of water supply, now.
A large number of kampong people say they have a tap in their homes for the first time in their family history.
Again, there are problems in many areas. In some place the water supplied by government is not of good quality and at many places water is stored in tanks. But, there is perceptible improvement in the entire drinking water system.
# One of the most corrupt sectors of any state government is always the public works department. Sabah is no different, but in the last nine years after Musa Aman took charge of the state, a lot of work has been done and things move much faster now as many corrupted officials have been removed.
The quality of new roads in the interiors and kampongs have improved.
Musa is obviously not bluffing when he says, “I am not corrupt, I don’t allow corruption”.
Barisan National is visibly cash-rich.
Money plays an important role in the hype through mass-communication and in the craft of building of political perceptions for use of the media. But, still, the fact is that people are in a mood to believe that Musa Aman is not corrupt. In this election, his clean image will give him many marks.
# There are several reasons why Barisan National will do well in Sabah again this coming 13th General Elections although Musa’s government had reached its peak of getting 59 out of the 60 state seats in the 2008 elections.
Musa Aman without any doubt is pro-reforms and a moderate ruler. He has continued helping the under privileged and poor. He has even helped single mothers and has asked his administration to give them training. Now, trained widows are getting work and even getting pension.
There are many such situations where Musa has created new programs and projects for the poor and the underprivileged.
His penchant to give permission to new education institutes is appreciated, he gives permission to self-finance education bodies and schools which plan to run on government grants.
As a result the indigenous people don’t have to pay for uniforms shoes and text books for their school going children. Even milk and free food are supplied to these indigenous children in the interiors.
So the overall thrust is such that Musa will score points.
The hidden social fight of upper/middle class versus the poor people is taking a new direction in Sabah. Musa is benefiting out of it.
He has successfully created hype over his social schemes.
The re-gazette of 183,000 hectares of Class 2 Commercial Forests into Class 1 Protection Forests to expand the expanse of totally protected forests in the state is another issue largely going in his favour.
The craving for forest protection in the state is so intense by Musa Aman that the story about him cutting all the timber and corruption is not getting people’s attention because they know its all lies to discredit him.
The e-government is a pet subject of Musa and its help in systemising land records does make an impact on the people. The Communal Titles a brainchild of Musa Aman, a move to issue communal land titles to resolve ownership woes among the indigenous people has paid off. It has ensured that indigenous people receive the land they had cultivated or lived in for generations. It is also a way to ensure that land owned by the natives could not be sold off.
To repeat on a broader level, Musa is selling dreams in kampongs and towns where his development has reached and where his economic thinking is helping indigenous people to improve their lives.
The opposition has countered his attempt to sell starry ideas, but his charisma and the massive development seen taking place all over the state attempts to control the damage of robust opposition in many places.
While in urban areas Musa’s offer to have a “Developed Sabah” is clicking with people who love the multi-fold appreciation of their stock, homes and land prices.
If you look at the emotional connection between Musa and his audience in his statewide meet the people sessions, it is easy to predict that Musa is all set to win again.
Even Premier Najib recently in Bongawan was impressed by Musa’s performance, both as Umno head and chief minister and he complimented, “Musa is doing an excellent job leading the party and the state government.”