Archive for the ‘DAP’ Category



It appears that a critical mass of the Sabah electorate wants to reward Musa Aman for the good work he has done over the past several years, since he first assumed Chief Ministership in March 2003. Each person this writer spoke to heading for the early polls in Sabah had only good word to say about the chief minister. This is indeed what makes it difficult for a divided Sabah opposition – The United Sabah Alliance (USA) and its four State-based opposition parties namely Star, Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS), Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), Lajim Ukin’s Parti Harapan Rakyat, Shafie Apdal’s Parti Warisan Sabah together with Malaya based DAP, PKR & Amanah, to attack Musa on any of his development agenda. Shafie Apdal himself has characterised Musa’s regime as marked by fourteen years of malfeasance, but could never publicly attack him on the plank of development.

In a big public meeting outside of Sandakan late 2016, Shafie asked those who attended if Musa’s reign as Chief Minister was ever marked by a lack of accountability but the response was cold. In reply Shafie fumed before the crowd: “I have no other motive than to defend the rights of Sabah”, but having held five terms Member of Parliament of Semporna since 1995 and appointed as parliamentary secretary, Deputy Minister of Housing and Local Government in 1999, Deputy Minister of Defence from 1999 to 2004, Minister of Domestic, Trade and Consumer Affairs, and later Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage, he has yet to prove that. On 10 April 2009, he became the Minister of Rural and Regional Development which coincided with his election to one of UMNO’s three vice-presidential posts. Shafie Apdal is hence the first Sabahan to hold a vice-presidency of UMNO but has done little to “defend the rights” of the varied population of this state.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that there is an authentic Musa wave in Sabah as is. It is no wonder that divided Sabah opposition groupies are very worried about the general sentiment generated before polling. The local opposition parties anxiety is reflected in the manner in which it is bringing issues like illegal immigrants, the re-issuance of identity cards, and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Elsewhere, near Penampang, Shafie Apdal is doing what he does best – playing the polarisation game. When he said Sabahans will celebrate if the BN is defeated in Sabah, he again betrayed the fact that the party’s desperation has reached newer highs. By invoking BN, Parti Warisan Sabah believes it can consolidate Sabahan votes across all races but the party’s attempts has failed to bear fruit as voters are seen shying away from Shafie Apdal’s new party. In fact, large sections of Sabahans seem to be inclined to give Musa Aman another term.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the founding father of the second largest political party in Sabah, a long serving assemblyman, MP and Huguan Siou (paramount leader of the Kadazandusun community), has indicated an intention to retire from politic but is also complementing the broader sentiment in favour of Musa by holding on to his KDM vote base – to which opposition groupies have mainly tried but failed to break by raising numerous issues including the delayed Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) technical working committee report on illegal immigrants.

The KDMs, emotionally impacted by the down fall of the PBS Government in March 1994, seemed to have put their fullest weight behind the grand BN alliance. Pairin’s meetings are attracting unusually large crowds with hundreds of youths enthusiastically clicking away on their smart phones. I had seen a similar spectacle only during Pairin’s public meetings in Tambunan and Keningau during GE13 polls in 2013.

In many ways Sabah looks so much like a forerunner of events in national politics. Both Musa and Pairin speak the same language and the political grammar converges around a larger strategy of demanding Sabah rights under the Constitution, the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) report and Malaysia Act. The devolution of powers from the Federal Government to the state was an ongoing process, with the principal objective of addressing and resolving public concern over the erosion of the special safeguards granted to Sabah under the Malaysia Agreement and the Constitution.

Musa Aman articulates this strategy cogently as he says, “We are all Sabahans, who advocated a constant campaign to resolve issues between state and the federal and the Sabah Government has its own “gentler” approach – more effective, better than shouting and demanding” – “The Sabah Way”. When Musa said this a decade ago, the BN was the establishment. Today, the BN, and the forces its represents, have become the establishment, forging a front against the opposition and its divisive politics, the state government believes in consultation not confrontation.

Musa has repeated over the years that the Sabah State Government under his watch believes in diplomacy rather than confrontation and has achieved some excellent results through this approach, particularly in its negotiations with Petronas on oil and gas matters. These include the appointment of a Sabahan to the Petronas board of directors and Petronas undertaking to increase the number of Sabahans at executive and management level. Now there is a clear understanding between Petronas, the Federal Government and the state government as to Sabah State Government objectives.

UMNO is benefiting in Sabah due to the image of Musa Aman as an urbane, decent and efficient chief minister. The visit to Sabah by Wu Bangguo, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Catherine, and many other world leaders, confirms that Musa has placed Sabah ahead of many other states, making it the most successful state in Malaysia in attracting private investments. China’s decision to open a consul-general office in Kota Kinabalu confirms the state’s growing importance as a world-class city favoured by tourists and businesses. For the first quarter of 2016, Sabah under Musa Aman managed to attract private investments in the amount of RM10 billion, way ahead of other states. Apart from that, as of September 30, the amount of cumulative investments in the private sector, under the Sabah Development Corridor projects, had reached RM114 billion since its launch in 2008. Among the many reasons include having a stable, business friendly and a prudent government as well as stringent forestry laws and strong conservation programme. Totally Protected Area (TPA) – now covers over 1.5 million hectares of the land area or some 22% of Sabah. The government policy has been launched to achieve 30% TPA by 2025 or 2030 at the latest or over 2.2 million hectares of Sabah under forest.

So tell me, which other state in Malaysia has set aside 22% of TPA including rich agricultural lands and virgin forests at high opportunity costs? Only Sabah under the Aman administration, that’s for sure.


For many years now, MANY in Malaysia have had an uneasy feeling that democracy, as generally understood, sits uneasily among the people of this country. Malaysia has large and sometimes articulate political parties and it has had leaders totally committed to the concept of democracy, which is also true. There was Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Tun Dr Ismail, Tun Hussein Onn, John Aloysius Thivy, Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Stephen Kalong Ningkan, Tun Fuad Donald Stephens, Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, Peter Mojuntin, Tun Mustapha, O K K Sedomon, Ahmad Boestaman,  and others who believed in the concept of democracy as the only one that would keep Malaysia together and take it forward.

Like true democrats they believed that dissent was an essential part of democracy, and that the country would only be enriched by debate and discussion, even by agitation if that became necessary. Their belief was complemented by their direct contact with the people; the trust that people had in them made it possible for them to persuade them to accept, enthusiastically, the beliefs and ideas they gave them.

But when such leaders and people are not there any more, what happens to the parties and institutions they have built and nurtured? One facile answer is that political argument gets stronger and power shifts from one group to another when elections are held. In other words, the people decide who will have the responsibility to manage the state, removing those whom they consider incapable and bringing in those they think can do the job. This is very convenient and comforting. It is also totally fictitious.

It is true that political argument does get stronger, more so because of the increasingly watchful media both print and electronic, of which most political groups have become wary, even fearful, and not without reason. The fiction lies in the belief that the “people” remove those who do not perform and bring in those who they think can perform.

First, the concept of “people” is simplistic; the vast numbers of individuals in the state are an infinitely complex entity consisting of a vast number of groups and sub-groups. This enormous mass of individuals does not come together and decide anything; that is not what happens, not at all. What happens is that a strategy aimed at finding acceptance with groups of individuals, in some cases possibly fortuitously, works or works better than the strategy of another group.

In the 2008 general elections, the strategy of what was called the Third Front did not work; most individuals did not trust it. In a muddle of strategies, five states fell to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat but not because it had planned to do so. It had, of course, tried to win the Federal Government, but its plans were wide off the mark. When it won 5 states and 82 parliamentary seats it must have been as surprised as anyone else.

On the other hand, Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman had a strategy that he had worked on for years since 2003 – to give people the kind of development and security they had been yearning for – and his many victories till 2013 May 5th was no surprise, except perhaps to his opponents, and their surprise was more at the magnitude of his success than at the victory itself. It made their strategies and plans look comic in comparison. Musa Aman is an exception, and a phenomenon confined to Sabah.

At the national level, and in most other States, the structure of democracy is being subjected to forces that may well change it completely over time. To understand that one has, perhaps, to take a step back and look at what the process is about today.  It is not about representing the “people’s” will. It is about control and power.

Our so-called democracy is defined not by the existence of dissent and opposition activity but by the nature of the power wielded. It is monarchical and meant to secure the interests, political and economic, of the ruling group, whichever it is. And this is done by ensuring that power remains with an elite group – preferably the family, but also those who are close to it and share the same backgrounds.

One can see it today in what many refer to as the First Family in the Umno Baru; Dr Mahathir Mohamad is clearly grooming his son, Mukhriz, to be the next Prime Minister. But they are not by any means the only family. Look at the number of sons and daughters and son-in-law now who are inducted into the corridors of power:  Najib Tun Razak, Hishammuddin Tun Hussein Onn, Khairy Jamaluddin, even Mukhriz Mahathir in Kedah who is what he is because he is Dr Mahathir’s son, and a whole host of others whom media naively call the Young Turks. The original Young Turks were not just young; they had come to prominence because of their abilities, not because of who their father or mother or father-in-law was. A number of sons and daughters whom the media naively call Young Turks have been inducted into the corridors of power.

Inevitably, the elements of power are being chivied towards specific families, which will then determine who will stand for elections for their parties, and thus consolidate their own position, securing it for their generation and the generations to follow. Increasingly, their contact with the people has become more and more distant; the people get to be called the “rakyat” who have to be maneuvered by race, religion, money and promises. But this is not a phenomenon confined to the Umno party; it is as much in evidence in the opposition Pakatan Rakyat parties such as the DAP, PKR and PAS. Look at Lim Guan Eng, Nurul Izzah, Karpal’s sons, Ustaz Din Tok Guru the son-in-law of PAS President Ustaz Abdul Hadi Awang, so many more.

And where the factor of unease comes in is in what appears to be an inevitable slide towards oligarchy, where an elite takes over power – political and economic. It is economic, too, of course. All the big corporate giants are busy grooming their sons and daughters to take their place among the power elite; Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary is only one instance of this. Even the much-revered Al Bukhary group is reportedly looking for a Syed to head it once Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary leaves; Vincent Tan has already inducted his son into his Berjaya empire, so has Kuok Brothers, so has Ananda Krishnan.

One can only hope that this is not what we have in store for us, that we do produce some leaders from outside the elite families who, like Musa Aman in Sabah, will lead with clear concepts of development.



Creating history in Sabah’s politics, Musa Aman is once again back to the power of the state as the poll result of the just-concluded 13th General Election of May 5 showed that he won a landslide victory. The UMNO and Barisan National alliance grabbed more than two-thirds of the seats (48) in the 60 state assembly seats and 22 of the 25 Parliamentary seats. Musa Aman’s victory is said to be due to the triumph of development, progress, and good governance.

From the very beginning, the 2013 assembly poll counting hinted that the UMNO-BN alliance would create a history in Sabah with their new win and they proved by attracting a total of 442,493 votes for state seats and 434,522 for parliamentary seats which total 877,015 in all. The opposition, on the other hand, received only 59,862 votes for the State seats and 287,559 votes for Parliamentary seats.

Musa Aman, received the biggest chunk of votes with 16,637 for a state seat in Sibuga among the coalition’s state component leaders, a majority of 11,569 votes, underscoring the popularity of his Halatuju policy for the state’s development. His acceptance of a renewed term as Chief Minister also makes it the first time a Sabah Chief Minister had broken the nine-year jinx and continued to hold the fortress, basically what I have been saying all along.

Also as predicted, the Sabah Progressive Party led by former chief minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee was wiped out losing all the 41 state and eight parliamentary seats contested. Yong himself was beaten by DAP’s Youth leader Junz Wong in Likas state seat. Apart from Bingkor, Dr Jeffrey’s STAR candidates lost all 48 state and 21 parliamentary seats it contested. Except for the Klias state seat, Sabah UMNO retained all its 13 parliamentary and 31 (out of 32) state seats it contested.

While many facile analyses will attribute the electoral outcome in Sabah to factors that were marginally relevant, the more astute of analysts will see in the turnout figures what this election was really about. Of particular interest would be the number of first time voters and of even greater significance the spike in the Women Voter turnout. It would not be exaggeration to describe this election as the one where Women and Youth reposed their faith overwhelmingly in Musa Aman. In the processing putting up a Firewall against Race, Religion and every other political construct from the decades gone past that have come to define incumbencies.

This win signifies 6 things for Musa and Sabah:

#1 – He is a trend setter and has established that pro-incumbency sentiment can firewall against even the toughest of incumbencies and a 10 year run for the Chief Minister.

#2 – He is able to break from the past, having able to discard political constructs of the past 5 decades to analyse this election. This requires a new political construct to analyse how elections of the future will be fought as well.

#3 – He proves that Technology can be a winner – and that is necessary to stop being apologetic for being tech friendly.

#4 – He has sent a signal to the Pakatan Rakyat and its extended ecosystem of Sabah Progressive Party and Star that the cliche victimhood card as a permanent political agenda is past its sell by date. Cynicism no longer sells.

#5 – It is reflective of what the future can hold for Malaysia.

#6 – It shows Sabah is kingmaker in Malaysian politics.

Between women and youths lies the “New Sabah”. The story of this election’s win is really the story of how the ‘New Sabah’ came to be and how Musa Aman has laid out a political roadmap to realise its aspirations. Musa Aman preferred to call this a ‘Covenant of Commitment’. But I would go a step further to call it the ‘ladder of opportunity’.

For the first time in the middle of a high stakes election for an incumbent Chief Minister in a country like Malaysia to go on record and express his commitment to Development takes both courage and conviction. It is much easier to resort to cheap populism. What I find striking about this election is the creativity with which the “Safety of Net” has been promised. This has been done so while being steadfast about creating a “Ladder of Opportunity”. Thus there is the opportunity for more citizens to cross over that much riled “Poverty Line” through targeted interventions and join the “New Sabah”. The “safety net” that has been promised is less of a trap that sucks you into dependency but more of a trampoline that helps you bounce right back to find your way up that ladder of opportunity.

The earliest indicators of the rise of the ‘New Sabah’ came from the Census data of Rural Households. Between the fall of Harris Salleh’s Berjaya that was wrongly attributed to “Sabah Shining” and the re-election of Pairin Kitingan’s PBS that was once again wrongly attributed to ‘Sabah rights based entitlements’ most commentators have ignored what the Census data told us going as far back as 1985. In block after block, district after district, when queried over what kind of assistance Rural families preferred one message came out loud and clear – education, skills and security.

Musa Aman’s comments on the rise of the ‘New Sabah’ during the release of Sabah BN’s manifesto for the May 5th 13 General Elections may come as a surprise to many but there is a sound demographic basis to it. Back in 2008 as an academic exercise an economist friend had dissected the electoral landscape in Sabah through the prism of the 2006 Census data. It was found that the opportunity exists to materially alter the battleground in Sabah through a platform that emphasized on ‘economic issues’ that can size up to the ‘economic aspirations’ of the “New Sabah”.

It is this “New Sabah” that a hunger for job opportunities and infrastructure is shaping a different kind of electoral discourse where development and economic growth are viewed as essential to the ladder of opportunity while concerns over inflation manifest into the desire for a subsidy-oriented safety net. This is markedly different from the Pakatan Rakyat, SAPP and Star rhetoric which is all about imaginary rights and entitlements with the lure of cash transfers. The key difference is that the “New Sabah” is far more impatient to climb the ladder of opportunity rather than militate like the opposition parties for a safety net woven out of rights and entitlements.

Social engineering and victimhood narratives have been political anomalies for some time now with a young and impatient Sabahans hungry to satisfy its aspirations making electoral choices that defy conventional political wisdom. Soon they will become anachronisms with the Sabah victory marking the first time an explicit agenda targeting Sabahans being advanced by Musa Aman receiving such a resounding endorsement from the citizenry.

The opposition hasn’t been able to counter Musa Aman, but they say they have been able to contain him. That is one way of looking at it. What Musa has won is 18 seats more than the required majority, which is not spectacular, but the number is still more than what the opposition has managed to win. In fact, this is more a personal victory for Musa Aman than for the Barisan National.

There is no question Musa Aman is a master strategist.


The coming state assembly elections for Sabah may be a pivotal moment in determining the future trajectory of the state’s political economy and indeed progress, in the near term. Pitted against each other are two contesting visions of Sabah: the incumbent coalition government comprising the Umno-led BN in a coalition with local parties Party Bersatu Sabah (PBS), United Pasok Momogun Kadazan Organisation (UPKO),Party Bersatu Rayat Sabah (PBRS) and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), are campaigning on a platform of good governance which is supported by the arithmetic of rapid economic growth — approximately 7 per cent on average — in the last ten years of Musa Aman’s government.

On the other side is the Pakatan Rakyat combine shepherded by Anwar Ibrahim and Bumburing’s Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS) and Lajim Ukin’s Pertubuhan Pakatan Perubahan Sabah (PPPS), which still believes that it can acquire power in Kota Kinabalu by manipulating the state’s race and religious arithmetic in its favour. The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and Sabah STAR is the third front in this contest — trying to take on the incumbent government on a Borneo agenda-Sabah autonomy, rather than governance plank — but not yet powerful enough to be a credible alternative in government, leaving many to believe that both the SAPP and Star Sabah have been planted by Barisan National to split the opposition votes. After all, President Yong Teck Lee himself will have plenty explaining to do on what he did during his tenure as chief minister when SAPP was in the BN.

It would be in the larger interest of the state of Sabah and its people if this election puts to rest the notion that power can still be captured based on old social divisions and grievances. It is important for Sabah’s political economy to move on to a politics of aspiration, where people vote for a party or coalition that delivers governance. This will force all serious political parties (including the SAPP and Sabah Star if they want to remain relevant) to contest future elections on a forward looking governance plank in the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement within the framework of the Federal Constitution, rather than a backward looking social engineering plank. This time round, such reasoning undoubtedly favours the UMNO-PBS combination which is the main pillar of Barisan National Sabah, and a majority of opinion polls, for what they are worth, suggest an easy victory for the Musa Aman-led coalition.

But a political economy which puts governance at its centre may not favour the incumbent government for all times to come, such are the huge challenges facing any government that is elected to power in Sabah. To what extent can Musa Aman’s government claim credit for Sabah’s apparent turnaround, powered by a growth rate higher than Malaysia’s average over the last five years? A dissection of the growth figures shows both the contribution of the government and the challenges that remain. Most of Sabah’s growth these past five years has been powered by agriculture, construction, tourism and services, particularly hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, trade and, to an extent, oil and gas. The impressive growth in these sectors isn’t matched by the lethargic performance in manufacturing — those are challenges that still face the next government.

The state government can claim credit for fuelling the growth in agriculture, fisheries, tourism and construction, since much of this has come through rural development projects, water supply, electrification, bridges and roads funded through the federal and state’s exchequer. In fact, the government’s public spending record has been good, and a massive improvement on the poor spending record of the previous governments before Musa Aman that preceded it. Planned spending was tripled within ten years of the Musa Aman government taking office. This has spillover effects, in a Keynesian “stimulus” sense. Apart from increasing spending, the government has also taken huge strides in improving the law and order situation especially in the east coast of Sabah where bulk of the illegals with fake or questionable Malaysian identity have outnumbered the locals. That has helped boost not just agriculture and the construction activity but has also given a fillip to service industries in the tourism sector like hotels and restaurants which have registered impressive growth.

In short, the government has effected the turnaround in the state’s economic fortunes by simply doing the two things any good government ought to: implementing law and order as well as spending on infrastructure. In doing so, it has reversed the long decline in the state’s fortunes that took place before Musa Aman took over the chief ministers in 2003. It is also important to remember that a lot of this impressive growth in the last five years has plenty to do with Sabah starting from a very low base — and that there is a limit to the sustainability of a growth rate that is powered largely by government spending and a small section of services industries and not forgetting that Sabah is the 2nd largest state in Malaysia with an area of 74,500 sq. km which is 260 times bigger than Penang, which is only 293 sq. km in size even, smaller than Sabah Forest Industries (SFI). Therefore for growth to be sustainable it needs to be more broad-based into manufacturing and agriculture.

Here, the task gets a lot harder, and will involve massive policy reform in land, labour and product markets. What makes Sabah’s task of industrialisation harder than that of some other states is the fact that goods are more expensive in Sabah due to the federal government’s cabotage rules a policy set in the early 1980s, making sure that all the domestic transport of foreign goods could only be done by Malaysian vessels, reducing Sabah’s attractiveness as an investment destination. This protectionist policy has led to excessive shipping costs, importers and exporters in Sabah had to pay more than RM1 billion for shipping services as a result, causing prices everywhere in East Malaysia to go up and ultimately a higher cost of living and higher price of goods as producers hike up prices to compensate the increase in cost of production. Further more, Sabah lost a lion’s share of its industries after Labuan became a Federal Territory.

What may also turn out to be an unforeseen advantage is the rather shambolic state of governance in surrounding states — Sarawak, Brunei, The Sulu States, and even Kalimantan. If Sabah can consistently outperform these states on governance, it could easily become the industrial hub of East Malaysia — a region which still trails Penang and Selangor on most economic parameters by some distance.

But to capitalise on these potential advantages, the Musa Aman government will have to do much more than maintain law and order and actively engage in spending which has been done of late with a huge budget approval of over RM4 billion this year. It will also need to take bold policy steps to liberalise rules that deter investment. In doing so it may have to go further than other states which already have a head start in attracting investment. The government will, for example, need to ease labour laws and better wages, so that Sabahans can be gainfully employed within the state. It will need to take aggressive steps to ease land acquisition so that it can have an advantage over neighbouring Sarawak. If the government fails to do this and more, growth will begin to slow, giving the opposition plenty of ammunition. At any rate, Sabah’s future elections ought to be fought on these issues of the future rather than the outdated legacies of the past. This leaves Musa Aman still the best man for the job.


Development without corruption is an ideal situation in Malaysian politics. Corruption and development is, at a stretch, somewhat acceptable. But corruption without development is completely unacceptable. Sadly, the Malaysian political scene has somehow have found ourselves in the second scenario and moving rapidly towards the last scenario. And it is within this such formula that incumbent Chief Minister, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, the undisputed leader of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and Chairman of the ruling coalition in Sarawak’s victory in the recent 10th Sarawak state elections 2011, needs to be seen.

The issue whether or not Taib Mahmud is a clean politician was never the key. It was whether Taib Mahmud had delivered, and on that count he scored. Perhaps not in the most raring of percentages but but he was adequately high on a scale of one to ten. In the Malaysian context, irrespective of corruption, development scores. If a politician at the helm of affairs demonstrates his intent and will to deliver as well as takes positive steps in that direction, similar to that of the Taib Mahmud Sarawakian government, then the electorate reposes its faith in him. This more often than not overlooks the incumbency factor. Taib Mahmud was voted in as chief minister for eight terms: the last one going beyond anyone’s expectations. The grapevine has it that Taib himself was not sure of winning but the people voted him in on three counts; the first being that only he can keep UMNO from coming into Sarawak, the second being that he had done for Sarawak what no other Chief Minister had and third being that development was high on the agenda.

There were stories about several family members benefiting billions during his regime but those allegations waned in the face of the work he had done. A great deal still remains undone but his intention and will to work benefited the people who voted him in and this alone is enough reason for the electorate to back him and ensure his return to office which he held for eight terms. In the case of Dr Mahathir, the issue also worked in his favour was the perception that his heart beats for the Malays although he is half-Indian and that even while the party or his confidantes made money left, right and center, he had electoral support till of course he made the fatal mistake of sacking Anwar Ibrahim for corruption and sodomy charges.

In Malaysia, race, religion or corruption comes into play when development takes a backseat. In situations like this, non-performing politicians have a field day in exploiting race and religion blocks to their advantage and they often succeed. Koh Tsu Koon was able to rule Penang and later managed to name chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan as his successor primarily because he helped UMNO and had the support of the Feds in the center, get electoral power and in turn had a role in decision making. But what dented Koh Tsu Koon’s unassailable position were his non-performance and confining his tenure solely to UMNO politics. That worked initially but later Penangites wanted results of governance where of course he failed miserably. The consequence: a total rout from which recovery seems a near impossibility as the recent 2008 election-results have demonstrated.

This is in great contrast with Lim Guan Eng’s human development agenda in which the situation is crystal-clear. Koh Tsu Koon’s UMNO discrepant policies brought Lim Guan Eng center-stage: His initial victory had little to do with him and more with being the protégé of then Penang Chief Minister Lim Chong Eu and UMNO. Koh Tsu Koon’s Parti Gerakan who vouched for him throughout the years deserted him on the grounds that his UMNO sucking up politics were limited to his family and an inner circle comprising his relatives and maybe a handful of supporters. At the macro level Koh Tsu Koon had failed to deliver or do anything for the state, they argued. Worse still, he had put the clock back.

Lim Guan Eng reign checked these: corruption, accountability and transparency and followed this up with development. Not only did he bring back the dignity of Penangites but also stressed on the state’s CAT (competency, accountability and transparency) principles. It is after many years in Penang that the state is finally transparent in its governance. In the face of all this, whether Lim Guan Eng and his minions are corrupted or not were non issues when it comes to voting him and his boys back to power. This can be said about Taib Mahmud or Musa Aman for that matter. Upon a better look, the way Musa Aman went about getting The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah to investigate the Mother of ALL Problems, “Project IC”, the alleged systematic granting of citizenship to foreigners, was a brilliant move in spite of so much objections and even sabotage by Shafie Apdal and some UMNO Sabah chaps. Despite the drama he still managed to get it thru and convince Premier Najib against all odds, that this is the true meaning of development!

I stand corrected on my theory that people accept corruption only if it rides piggyback on development and never the former without the latter. Lim Guan Eng substantiates the first and Koh Tsu Koon the second. And although the the third option of development without corruption is an ideal situation, it is sadly rarely found in Malaysian politics. Even honest politicians, Musa Aman, who was voted in on grounds of his honesty and integrity, rued the fact that political parties need money to survive.

So with the way things are, it is less about corruption and more about being found out. Or even getting caught. Hence, solo development or clean governance in Malaysian politics is an ideal situation. In lieu with this, I have to single out Former Prime Ministers Tengku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussein Onn whose integrity is beyond doubt, despite the various scams their Government had been besmeared with. But ask the man on the street or even Tengku or Tun Hussein Onn’s former political rivals and they will charge them with inaction but not dishonesty. In this case the clean image scores over governance.



President of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) Taiko Yong Teck Lee’s romancing of the Barisan National may end his love affair with the Sabah opposition front soon. But this new love story bring up the moot question as to why he is so desperate when the Barisan National has hardly given any indication to warmly accommodate him under its fold. Sources in the Barisan National say Yong Teck Lee can’t be trusted. How can they depend on a leader who was willing to ditch the Barisan National—his decade-old senior partner — when he felt the relations between both were strained because of one man Pak Lah? Earlier too, Yong Teck Lee parted ways with Pairin Kitingan and formed the SAPP. The gainer of this triangular game being played in the state may be Shafie Apdal a good friend of Yong Teck Lee who is waiting and watching in the wings to take over as chief minister from Musa Aman.

Remember when Yong Teck Lee was chief minister he together with Shafie Apdal milked Yayasan Sabah until it nearly when dry? However, thanks to Musa Aman,he saved the day for Yayasan Sabah. Even Lajim Ukin, Sabah’s famous party hopper and old buddy of Yong Teck Lee from the Party Bersatu Sabah (PBS) days where both began their political career and where both plotted to destroy PBS are seen regularly together nowadays. If recent gathering in the meetings of SAPP is any indication, then Yong Teck Lee being adamant to go for a majority of the state seats (60 in Sabah) this coming looming 13th general election on what he termed as “the principle of Sabah autonomy” is all about splitting the opposition votes and helping Barisan National win big.

The political signal coming from Yong Teck Lee in the last few months indicate that he is trying to sail on two boats — Barisan National and Pakatan Rakyat — at the same time. His shifting statements to keep both the major political parties in good humour may end with a backlash. At the same time, Pakatan Rakyat camp specially The Democratic Action Party (DAP) feels that Yong Teck Lee is not dependable and his track record for the last couple of years shows that he is more committed to divide and split the opposition votes. It is a known fact that despite poor governance Yong Teck Lee ruled this politically vibrant state for 2 years but a lot say he worked 4 long years (pun added because he worked day and night 24hours a day making hay while there is sunshine with his partner in crime Joseph Ambrose Lee).

Yong Teck Lee’s new political strategy to oppose Pakatan Rakyat and hinting he would also ditch Dr Jeffrey’s State Reform Party (STAR) anytime is also meant to hijack Dr Jeffery’s old battle cry of ” Sabah For Sabahans” , “Sabah Rights” and now “Ini Kali Lah”, and keep his minority flock in his pocket. In the meantime, Yong Teck Lee is trying his best to sweep the issues of malgovernance and corruption during his time as chief minister under the carpet with the help of captive media. Being a shrewd seasoned politician, Yong Teck Lee knows his limitations; he also knows the art of handling the levers of the power equations. He has hardly missed any occasion to profess his loyalty to the Party Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), and Anwar Ibrahim in particular. Recently, he took the opportunity to welcome Anwar Ibrahim in the Kota Kinabalu International Airport and this says a lot. Though he is not a part of the Pakatan Rakyat but only supports it from the outside, he also denounced DAP Sabah strongly. Is Yong Teck Lee driving a wedge between Anwar Ibrahim and DAP Sabah?

In a given political situation, Yong Teck Lee doesn’t have any other alternative but to support the PKR in Sabah after his bad outing in the Batu Sapi Parliamentary by-election where even Ansari of PKR did better then him. He can’t think of joining Pakatan Rakyat because of DAP Sabah whereas Dr Jeffrey Kitingan can move in any direction. The challenge for the opposition is how to strike an agreement among themselves so that there will be only one-to-one fights with the Barisan. It will not be easy because SAPP and DAP are eyeing the same seats while Jeffrey is unlikely to give way to PKR on choice seats. Besides, there is no love lost between Dr Jeffrey and Anwar Ibrahim.

Now, as political churning is going on in Sabah, the situation is that the two political stalwarts Yong Teck Lee and Dr Jeffrey Kitingan are being used as pawns in a game played by the Barisan National and Pakatan Rakyat, both “Party Party Malaya” as they say here in Sabah.



Sabah opposition is, for all practical purposes, a collection of four main parties, DAP, PKR, Sabah Star and SAPP including newly formed but not registered Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS) headed by Wilfred Bumburing and Pakatan Perubahan Sabah (PPS) headed by Lajim Okin. USNO Baru is also in the fray mobilising support using founder Tun Mustapha’s name, but, its yet to be registered and very unlikely that it ever will.

There is a remark attributed, perhaps apocryphally, to Dr Jeffrey Kitingan to the effect that most Sabah politics is mathematics, a number game. As political analysis goes, this remark proves insightful. Sabah politics is, in this view, not driven by ideology or charisma. It is constituted by the mundane activity of stitching together narrow interest-driven coalitions. And electoral fortunes, for the most part, do not turn on massive changes induced by immense persuasiveness of candidates. They turn on small swings, and contingent management of interests.

But if this political analysis is taken too literally, it can become spectacularly self-defeating. It can make politics a passive waiting game. As opposition parties in Sabah prepare to met and strategise, or assuming they ever will, a plan to commit to  one-to-one fights against the Barisan National in the coming 13th General Elections brews.

Pakatan Rakyat in Sabah headed by Anwar Ibrahim has little presence here but it has done well in other PKR states from 2008. Since the last election, it has not expanded its presence in Sabah although the DAP has its footing in the urban areas.

Lest we forget, elections are ultimately about the ability to project credibility.

On the economy, the Pakatan Rakyat states have done well so far. It has given an alternative to old-fashioned UMNO/BN politics, concocting better versions to solutions. In Parliament sessions it had the rulling coalition on the mat for the many economic mess-ups in the last four years.

The most polished personalities in the Sabah opposition scene, Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and Yong Teck Lee, don’t seem to show that they have what it takes to run the state economy like the way Musa Aman has, but has only seem to be harping on the Sabah Rights vis a vis the Malaysia Agreement 1963. They are also simply waiting for the Barisan National Sabah to make more errors to give them a lift. To make matters worse, internally, the Sabah opposition itself is faced with a series of simultaneous equations it cannot solve. The main one is of course the mistrust between Malaya based Pakatan Rakyat and Borneo based Star Sabah and SAPP.

Most commentators assume that the Sabah opposition’s central dilemma is between Sabah Rights and a more centrist position. But, arguably, this is not its biggest dilemma. It will never be able to persuade die-hard antagonists who think that Sabah joining the Federation in 1963 to form Malaysia is a mistake. Regrettable as it might be, it can probably get away with a game of calculated ambiguity, so long as it is not deeply polarising. Its central dilemma is that Malaya does not understand what federalism means for Sabah politics.

If politics has become genuinely federal, then there are implications for how political parties are organised. In an ideal situation, like what we see now in the Musa Aman Government, state-level leaders and units have to believe that there is a symbiotic relationship between them and the leadership in Putrajaya. Association with the Putrajaya leadership enhances the prospects of local units and that’s why we see so much positivity coming from the Musa Aman government today. But if the Putrajaya leadership does not significantly add to the state units’ prospects, or worse still, becomes a liability ( like during the PBS days) then the central high command has little authority over the state. On the other hand, a party composed entirely of state units can have no coherence at the centre, and cannot project itself as a national party, like in Sarawak. This is the basic structural dilemma faced by the Sabah opposition.

It is, for all practical purposes, a collection of four parties; DAP and PKR, (Malaya based), Sabah Star and SAPP (Borneo based). Except for Jeffrey Kitingan and Yong Teck Lee who can be considered local leaders, PKR and DAP does not have anyone except Anwar Ibrahim who isn’t local himself. So the question of who is going to lead the Sabah opposition becomes an issue. To complicate matters, PKR in Sabah is undergoing a leadership crisis. Anwar and his cronies have meddled and presented Azmin Ali, also an outsider, as a solution to a headless PKR in Sabah. Clearly, the Sabah opposition’s problem is that it has no charismatic local leader of any kind to take reign, althogether failing to see that the the average age of its cadres does not reflect new Sabah.

Since Yong Teck Lee’s myopic misjudgment in Bati Sapi Parliamentary by-elections, the Sabah Opposition has been groping in dark for a leader. There is a great clamour for Lajim Okin now however, even if we grant him administrative acumen (not slot-machine acumen!), his ability to give the Sabah opposition a direction is limited. Despite Lajim giving up his RM30,000 salary as a Federal Deputy Minister and resigning as Umno Supreme Council member, Beaufort Umno Division chief and Beaufort BN chairman, justifying his actions by way of an epiphany (Lajim claims, after 18 years, to have come to a realisation that Umno/BN had not done anything for the welfare of Sabahans) still makes him a polarising figure. Lajim has got too much political baggage. He will have to come up with some spectacularly convincing gesture of contrition to be acceptable to Pakatan Rakyat and Pakatan Rakyat’s potential allies in Sabah. There is also a curious and potentially fatal omission in his strategy to make himself acceptable. Sabahans still see him as  an UMNO member and Lajim has not made any special initiative to campaign in Sabah. If he is a potential chief minister, his energies would have been directed to mass engagement across the state. He remains a question mark in everyone mind.

The only long-term solution for the Sabah opposition front is to have a serious institutional reform on how they are run. But no incumbent leader wants this and there is the paradox that a leader must first acquire authority to do this within current institutional rules. It is said, with some justification, that any party that wins in Sabah will look a bit like the Barisan National. But the real issue is, which Barisan National: the idea or its debased version?

At the moment, the Sabah opposition is looking more like the debased version: it matches the Barisan National’s petty-mindedness with its own display of small egos. We can debate structural issues to death. The Sabah opposition will get a lot of advice from its faithful on what to do. But the harder issue to come to terms with is this: there is a kind of inchoate lack of will that characterises the Sabah opposition parties, it is as if it is not sincere. Much of its leadership is doing what it does, not because it sees a point to it, but because it does not have anything else to do. This is an ultimate kind of nihilism, politics as casual play, increasingly disconnected with everything around it especially the economy. They are unable to show that if they capture the state they could run it prudently and efficiently like how Musa Aman has, a cash reserve of RM3.3 Billion, and a state budget getting bigger and bigger to a tune of RM4 billion a new record, which was never heard of before Musa Aman.


by Lim Guan Eng

Even though many goodies where announced during yesterday’s Budget 2013 speech by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, this budget has failed the Malaysian people by not addressing three crucial areas which are necessary to guarantee the long term well-being of our country and its people – namely fiscal prudence, economic sustainability and cost of living increases.

Firstly, even though the budget deficit is projected to come down from 4.5% in 2012 to a ‘mere’ 4.0% in 2013, this figure masks the poor track record of the BN government in sticking to its spending plans. For example, total expenditure for Budget 2012 was announced at RM232.8b in last’s year’s budget speech. But in this year’s Economic Report 2012 / 2013, total expenditure for 2012 is projected to total up to RM252.4b. This is almost RM20b more than the projected expenditure announced last year.

We were fortunate that projected revenue is expected to be RM207b for 2012, RM20b more than the RM186.9b projected revenue announced last year. Without this tax ‘windfall’, our budget deficit would have ballooned up to 6.7% of GDP rather than the projected 4.5% for 2012. But we cannot expect that actual revenue will continue to exceed projected revenue especially given the slowing global economy. Furthermore revenue from oil related tax revenue is likely to decrease given the change in the dividend policy of Petronas as well as political uncertainty in Southern Sudan which could decrease Petronas’s bottom line by as much as US1 billion.

While we do not object to giving financial assistance to the truly deserving, there is nothing to indicate that the government has stopped leakages in the BR1M program which went to people like an MCA Datuk in Pahang. The initial RM1.8b that was allocated to BR1M for 3.4m households in the 2012 budget ballooned to over RM2b for over 4m households. A country whose GDP is projected to expand by 5% in 2012 should see fewer households earning less than 3000RM. And yet, BR1M recipients are projected to increase to 4.3m households with another 2.7m individuals earning less than 2000RM joining them. Without proper checks and balances, the RM3b that has been allocated to BR1M 2.0 for Budget 2013 can easily increase to more than RM4b, if not more.
The same lack of fiscal prudence could be seen in the expenditure on subsidies. An allocation of RM32.8b was given for subsidies in Budget 2012 but the actual expenditure on subsidies is projected to be at RM42.4b, an increase of RM9.6b or 29.3% over the original budget! If the same kind of trajectory is followed, the RM37.6b which is allocated for subsidies in Budget 2013 could easily increase to almost RM50b!

Given the BN’s poor record for fiscal prudence and especially if elections are held next year, it is likely that BN will break the bank to funnel out as much taxpayer’s money as possible in a blatant attempt to buy votes by giving handouts irresponsibly. I would not be surprised if our total expenditure will be RM30b over budget and our budget deficit for 2013 would end up well in excess of 5.0%!

Secondly, this budget provides incentives and handouts which favors certain projects and parties rather than providing the basis for longer term sustainable economic growth that will benefit all. In fact, many of these incentives will skew the system against hardworking Malaysian entrepreneurs who are not in the position to receive and benefit from these incentives.

For example, Budget 2013 continues to give preferred incentives and tax treatments for companies who want to locate to and developers who want to build in the Tun Razak Exchange formerly known as the Kuala Lumpur International Financial District (KLIFD) including tax exemptions for property developers, income tax exemption for 10 years for TRX-status companies, stamp duty exemptions, industrial building allowance and accelerated capital allowances for TRX Marquee-status companies.

The aggressive promotion of TRX not only increases the problem of a property glut in commercial office space in Kuala Lumpur, it also unfairly disadvantages developers who own and are in the process of developing commercial property which TRX is directly competing against. These developers would lose out if existing or future tenants decide to relocate to TRX and at the same time, the taxpayer would also lose out since these companies would be given income tax exemption for 10 years. As part of this initiative, 1MDB will be allocated an additional RM400m from the Prime Minister’s Department in Budget 2013, an unnecessary expenditure for what is essentially a property development project.

Similarly, under the guise of lowering prices of goods in Sabah and Sarawak, the government is introducing 57 Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia or KR1M stores at the cost of RM386m. Just like in Peninsular Malaysia, the ones who will be hurt by this move are the owners of the kedai runcit stores who cannot compete against the government subsidized KR1M stores. It would make more sense for the government to abolish the cabotage policy and to improve the transportation network in Sabah and Sarawak to reduce prices of goods in Sabah and Sarawak, which is what Pakatan is proposing, rather than to subsidize KR1M stores that are run by one private company which would drive out many existing kedai runcit owners out of business.

These kinds of initiatives contradict PM Najib’s statement that the era of ‘government knows best is over’. Indeed, according to the Economic Report 2012 / 2013, the public sector is expected to expand by 13.3% in 2012 to account for 25.2% of GDP (up from 23.3% in 2011), meaning that the government will play a larger role in the economy, rather than to reduce its footprint and to allow the private sector to thrive and drive the economy forward. By promoting and undertaking these initiatives, Najib is contradicting one of the major thrust of the New Economic Model (NEM) and also the impetus behind the Economic Transformation Program (ETP).
Thirdly, this budget fails to bring to the table long term solutions for the problem of rising cost of living, especially in the urban areas.

Crime is one of the main drivers of cost of living increases. Businesses which have to spend more on security pass the costs to consumers. Residents who have to pay for private security have less disposable income. Sadly, the measures which are in Budget 2013 to reduce crime leave much to be desired.

There are no recommendations to re-organize the police force by re-allocating Special Branch officers, which have twice as many investigating officers / detectives as the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), or by re-allocating some of the 14,000 General Operations Force (GOF) police personnel, an organizational legacy from the Communist fighting days, to the CID and the frontlines of fighting crime.

Instead, what was provided was the allocation of RM20m to buy 1000 motorcycles at a cost of RM20,000 per motorcycle to set up a Motorcycle Patrolling Unit.

In addition, there were hardly any efforts proposed to involve the state and local authorities to fight crime. All that was mentioned as the allocation to buy 496 units of CCTVs for 25 local authorities to prevent street crimes in urban areas. This works out to 20 units of CCTVs for every local authority which is not even sufficient to cover one neighborhood, much less the area in one state authority.

Similarly, the ambitious program to build more than 100,000 affordable and low cost houses will come to naught if these housing projects are not integrated with public transportation. The MRT project and the LRT extension cannot possibly cover all the areas which have or will have low cost and affordable homes, assuming that they even get built. Allowing the state and local authorities to provide bus services would be one possible solution to this problem. But instead of this, the federal government is expanding the federally owned RAPID bus services to other places, this time to Kuantan.

With car prices still at very unaffordable levels, especially for the lower middle income groups, the issue of affordable and low cost housing cannot be seen in isolation from the issue of public transportation. Unfortunately, PM Najib does not seem to have realized this as seen by his Budget 2013.

Pakatan Rakyat’s budget, on the other hand, exercises much more fiscal prudence. Not only is our projected deficit lower at 3.5% of GDP or approximately RM37b, our revenue and expenditure projections are also much more conservative, at RM197b and RM234b respectively. A more conservative budget would give us more room to maneuver if Pakatan does take over power at the federal level and puts its budget in place.

PR’s budget is also more economically sustainable in that we do not attempt to favor one sector or project over another. Instead we will set out to abolish monopolies, abolish unfair practices and increase competition in all sectors of the economy.

Our budget also gives more focus on long term solutions to address cost of living issues including a proper redeployment and reallocation of police personnel to fight crime, more involvement of local authorities to reduce crime and provide public transportation alternatives, reduce and abolish toll rates to put money back into the pockets of the people and to find new ways of providing affordable public housing.

The choice for Malaysians is very clear. Najib’s 2013 budget is full of one shot goodies and handouts which do not adequately address the long term concerns of the country namely fiscal prudence, economic sustainability and cost of living increases. Pakatan, through its Alternative Budget, and through the state governments in Penang and Selangor, have shown that it can govern with fiscal responsibility in mind, with sustainable policies which encourage fair competition and with measures that puts money in the pockets of the people in the long term. Let the people of Malaysia choose wisely.

Lim Guan Eng

Read the rest in Mandarin here


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENT It appears that ties between the Sabah chapter of the Borneo-based State Reform Party (Star) and the Sabah Progressive Party (Sapp) could be “much better” if not for the latter’s insistence on contesting in 40 state seats and almost a third, about five to seven, of the parliamentary seats in Sabah. The party reiterated this stand at its meet on Sun in Kota Kinabalu.

Before the 40/5-7 Sun announcement by Sapp, Star had been publicly toying with the “goodwill gesture” of conceding two state seats — Likas and Luyang — and one (Tawau) of the two parliamentary seats it (Sapp) won in 2008 as a member of the ruling BN. Star itself had announced in mid-April that it would go for all 60 state seats at stake in Sabah and 26 parliamentary seats including Labuan.

Star chairman Jeffrey Kitingan then explained it as his party’s Plan Z after Sapp held secret seat-sharing talks with de facto Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Chief Anwar Ibrahim in Kota Kinabalu. Anwar claimed that he was negotiating on behalf of PR but this was quickly denied by Sabah Dap which wants Star brought into the equation as well. Anwar’s excuse for leaving out Star is that “it’s a new party in Sabah”.

Another major policy difference, reiterated by Sapp President Yong Teck Lee at the Sun meet, is that Sapp, unlike Star, does not want to be the king maker. He would be quite happy with just “killing the King” (Umno) so that “Anwar Ibrahim can be King”.

Yong condescendingly attributes Star’s stand to the 16-year-old party being new in Sabah and “still feeling its way” and this has outraged Star which is taking Sapp’s sanctimonious pontifications on “king killing” as a ploy and with more than a pinch of salt.

Jeffrey, given a history of bitter animosity with the allegedly anti-Christian Anwar, is not happy with the idea of him being “King” as it contradicts his party’s grand “vision of working towards helping empower the people of Sabah and Sarawak to wean them away from the dependency syndrome foisted on them by the BN to hold them to ransom in a climate of fear”.

His party, or at least the young Turks, is pushing for either Lim Guan Eng or Wan Azizah on the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) side vs Tengku Razaleigh on the Barisan Nasional (BN) side. Star disagrees with the Pas notion that the Prime Minister must always be a Muslim from one of the Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia who originated from the Archipelago.

Under Star’s kingmaker policy, it’s a toss between PR and BN but with the right Prime Minister-designate, “and the one favoured most would be the one – not party — who would least disrupt the economy”.

Star feels that Anwar, being a noted rabble-rouser all his life, would be a disruptive element in the economic management of the country. They are not impressed with his pledge to virtually “steal less oil and gas” than BN from Sabah and Sarawak given that the Petroleum Development Act has been found by legal experts to be unconstitutional and the oil agreement null and void.

The bottomline is that Star does not want Sabah and Sarawak in the post-13th GE period to go from the frying pan (BN) into the fire (PR), or at best, from the fire (BN) into the frying pan (PR).

The political fallout from Sapp’s insistence on “killing the King” and contesting 40 state seats has surprisingly taken a personal turn and is increasingly souring ties between the two parties.

Sapp activists are claiming during their ceramah that “Star is a useless reject from Sarawak where it failed to make any headway for 16 years, that its agenda is simply a cut-and-paste of Sapp’s original ideas, that it has been planted by BN to split the opposition votes and that Jeffrey himself received RM 50 million from a veteran BN leader in South Africa recently”.

Jeffrey’s international passport, a senior Star leader confided, does not show any trip to South Africa.

He dismissed the other allegations by Sapp as “a pack of lies which only this party of samsengs is capable of cooking up”.

“Samseng” is an image that Sapp finds particularly difficult to shake given the Dap constantly harping on this hypersensitive theme. This has made the soft-spoken Jeffrey more than a little wary of being publicly seen as being too close with Sapp, Yong in particular.

Sapp, in any case, seems bent on demolishing Star’s attempt to stake a claim to all seats at stake under Kingmaker Jeffrey’s Plan Z despite a caveat in some quarters.

In a sign of light at the end of the tunnel, some Sapp leaders are willing to accept just what Star can offer it and go along with Jeffrey’s king maker idea. However, they are coming under intense pressure from hawkish elements in the party who are reportedly linked with political party financers and moneybags working across the political divide and known hoodlums from Sarawak, all Foochows, controlling the Sabah underworld.

The young Turks in Star who originally came up with the party’s 60/26 plan, initially denied by Jeffrey “to please Sapp” and subsequently endorsed after Anwar, think that “Sapp will continue with its annoying mosquito ways despite staying in a glass house”.

They may hit back by probing the known skeletons in Sapp’s cupboard and, where possible, dredge up new information.

One of the skeletons is Jeffrey’s incarceration under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) for two two-year terms for activities undertaken by Sapp leaders when they were with the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).

They are puzzled that Jeffrey can be so “forgiving”.

It was Yong, they swear, who prevailed upon PBS President Joseph Pairin Kitingan to pull out his party on the eve of General Election in 1990. Yong was then a PBS Deputy President. Yong did not work alone. He earlier sought the support of PBS Deputy President Bernard Giluk Dompok – now Upko President – after being first rebuffed by Jeffrey who feared being blamed by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The young Turks confide that Star has two options “to put Sapp and PKR as well in their place in Sabah” in the run-up to the forthcoming 13th General Election.

The first was to demolish “the lies being spread by Sapp activists” and the second was to emphasize that “there’s no basis for comparison between Sapp and Star”.

“It was Sapp who ganged up with Umno to overthrow the PBS Government in 1994 through defections,” said a young Turk who remains incognito. “The Natives are mad to this day with Sapp for overthrowing the government of their Huguan Siou (paramount chief) Pairin.”

According to her, this is the most telling point among the Dusuns and Muruts in particular against Sapp; followed by the sneaking suspicion flogged by Dap that Sapp will “frog back into BN after the 13th GE to play the kingmaker role there”.

Elsewhere, Sapp’s track record when Yong was Chief Minister will come under growing scrutiny.

Topping the list is Yong’s allegedly lackluster record in office as Chief Minister; followed by the Likas election petition during which the Court discovered that the electoral rolls had been padded with illegal immigrants and, as a result, over-turned the election result; Yong’s disqualification from contesting for five years; Yong’s inability to explain the crippling losses suffered by state-sponsored Saham Amanah Sabah (SAS) holders who at one time saw the value of their holdings drop to ten sen per unit; and the marginalisation and disenfranchisement of thousands of forest fringe-dwelling Natives left virtually internally-displaced by the Sapp Government approving 100-year leases for so-called Forest Management Units (FMU).

Star, of all the parties in Sabah and Sarawak, fights a lonely battle on internal colonisation, self-determination, the Petroleum Development Act being unconstitutional, and the Federal Government’s non-compliance on the four constitutional documents and/or conventions which formed the basis for Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia viz. the 1963 Malaysia Agreement; the 20/18 Points; the Inter Governmental Committee Report; and the Cobbold Commission Report.

It also has reportedly a different and comprehensive take on the proposed Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants. The party’s stand will be unveiled in the security aspects of its Manifesto which is “work in progress”.

Therein lies the difference.


KOTA KINABALU: The manifesto revealed by the Sabah Progressive Party (Sapp) on Sun in the Sabah capital, to cite an example, leaves a lot to be desired since its conveys the impression that “the party leaders continue to be in a state of denial and are sitting on another planet and making plans for the state”.

This is the dismissive note, albeit reluctantly, from the State Reform Party (Star) on the Sapp Manifesto unveiled amidst much fanfare. The party hopes that others in the opposition will take heed of the lessons and do a better job on their respective manifestos “while Sapp goes back to the drawing board”.

If Sapp leaders deny that they are sitting on another planet, read a press statement from Star, then they certainly are like the proverbial three monkeys i.e. see no evil, hear no evil; and speak no evil and/or alternatively have buried their heads in the sand like the ostrich.

“Opposition parties in Sabah including the parti parti Malaya should not hope to emulate the evil being perpetrated by the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) when announcing their respective party manifestos,” said Star vice chairman Dr Felix Chong who until recently was with the Democratic Action Party (Dap). “Enough is enough. Let’s not play the game by the rules that the BN has drawn up.”

Chong was making comparisons between the Sapp Manifesto and the guiding principles driving the proposed Star Manifesto “which will be unveiled at an appropriate time”.

For starters, said Chong, he doesn’t know what is the vision and mission driving the Sapp Manifesto and this is evident in the absence of macro elements despite paying lip service, in passing, to autonomy and the one country, two systems approach.

In contrast, he added, Star has already mapped out its vision, mission, objectives, goals and activities (vimoga) “and all these will be reflected in the content of the party manifesto”. In addition, the Star manifesto will take due recognition of the vimoga of the Borneo Agenda driven-United Borneo Alliance (UBA) of which Star is the founding member and lead partner.

Asked what the fundamental flaw was, if any, in the Sapp Manifesto, Chong said it was “an inability to see the forest for the trees’ and “this is evident in the over-emphasis on micro aspects”.

“It would seem that Sapp leaders, in drawing up their Manifesto, are counting their chickens before they are hatched in putting the cart before the horse,” said Chong. “The Sapp Manifesto was dead even before it hit the water because it’s littered with useless and undemocratic ideas like the anti-hop law which is a non-starter.”

Holding out an olive branch, Chong suggested that all opposition parties in Sabah and Sarawak “including the unwelcome parti parti Malaya” get together and thrash out the macro aspects which should resonate through their respective manifestos and drive it together with their individual vimoga.

Chong said that there must be a consensus among opposition parties in the two Borneo states on three key drivers:

(1) remove the element of fear from politics – “reflected in the dependency syndrome” — and crush it by building strength through unity of the political parties and the people;
(2) take a pledge that Putrajaya should reverse the internal colonization policies in Sabah and Sarawak which, admittedly, “are being facilitated by local traitors who are willing to be proxies and stooges of the ruling party”;
(3) regain/restore the self-determination status of 31 Aug 1963 for Sabah and 22 July 1963 for Sarawak which (the status) became dormant on 16 Sept 1963 after both states were misled by the “cunning” Malayans and “re-colonizing” British into agreeing to help form and participate in the Federation of Malaysia, a bad idea from London.

“These three aspects are absolutely crucial and in fact must drive all local parties – “including the parti parti Malaya since they have local members” — in Sabah and Sarawak across both sides of the political divide,” said Chong. “Hopefully, the parti parti Malaya in Sabah and Sarawak are not here to emulate the self-serving and evil politics of the proxies and stooges of the ruling Federal party.”

Elaborating on the self-determination theme, Chong acknowledged that it could be left on the back-burner “until 2020” if Putrajaya complied with the four constitutional documents and/or conventions which formed the basis for Sabah and Sarawak’s participation in Malaysia viz. the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63); the 20/18 Points (20/18 P); the Inter Governmental Committee Report (IGCR); and the Cobbold omission report (CCR).

“It’s the non-compliance which eventually led to the internal colonization policies being pursued by Putrajaya in Sabah and Sarawak,” said Chong. “The internal colonization can be seen in a host of issues ranged between the ketuanan Melayu concept on one hand and the grinding poverty of our two states on the other hand.”

The Star vice chairman denied that his party and the UBA were biting off more than what they can chew. In a rebuttal, he pointed out that “the purpose of politics was to re-distribute political power and re-distribute resources”.

“If we are going to achieve these twin objectives of politics – power and resources – we need to get our politics and relationships right and not continue be caught in a slave mindset,” said Chong. “Otherwise, we have no business being in politics.”

Asked about the 17 Points in the Sapp Manifesto, Chong said that first things must be done first and, in other things, “we can cross the bridge when we come to it”.

He recalled that Umno, together with the Sapp breakaway from the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), promised a “Sabah Baru within 100 days” back in 1994, and the people were still waiting for it to materialize 18 years later. So, Sapp has a “credibility issue” on its 17 Points, he added.

“The failure of Sabah Baru to materialize eventually forced the United Sabah National Organisation members in Umno to leave the party and they have joined us in UBA,” said Chong. “They will contest under the Star symbol pending the re-registration of their party.”

Daniel John Jambun
Deputy Chairman, State Reform Party (Star)
Contact No: 012-834 0972

Mon 4 June, 2012