Archive for the ‘Datuk Dr Jeffrey @ Gapari Kitingan’ Category


KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan has queried the statement by the minister in the prime minister’s department, Datuk V. K. Liew, for disputing the media report on what the prime minister had said.

The president of StarSabah, opined that Liew’s response can be likened to the proverbial king shooting the messenger because the messenger came with bad news.

“He conveniently accused the media, especially Daily Express of ‘misquoting’ the prime minister,” Dr. Jeffrey said. “But he was too much in a hurry trying to defend Tun Mahathir without verifying if Mahathir really said as what was reported.”

In its front page last week Daily Express reported that the Prime Minister said he was unaware of the complaints by Sabah leaders on the three issues, namely the departure levy, the appointment of the new UMS vice chancellor and the introduction of Jawi in primary schools beginning next year.

In a terse response Liew said “I am deeply disturbed by the unprofessionalism of the news reporting today by Daily Express which published a distorted and incorrect statement of what Prime Minister YAB Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammed said today in response to a series of questions asked by Mr. James Sarda, the Chief Editor of Daily Express. As far as I’m concerned, they (Sabahan representatives in the Federal Cabinet) did not say anything.”

Dr. Jeffrey was surprised that Liew accused Daily Express for unprofessionalism while he himself was clearly unprofessional by diverting from answering the issue and resorting to finger pointing.

“He could have verified the matter by going back to the source and checked other media reports before playing his blame game,” the Member of Parliament for Keningau and assemblyman for Tambunan said. “He should have addressed the questions directly, taking the bull by the horns, and offered a reasonable explanation, even if he was reluctant to admit that Sabah, again, has been grossly taken for granted in national decision making affecting the state. This federal attitude has been going on for half a century and it continues today with irresponsible leaders like Liew.

“By shifting the blame he took the cowardly act to avoid the real issues affecting Sabahans. Clearly Liew is now more concerned with his political relations and less with issues having negative impact on Sabah,” Dr. Jeffrey said. “I guess there was a lot truth in what Tun M had said, and this truth is too hurtful for Warisan leaders to accept.”

…….

THIS IS VK LIEW’s STATEMENT….

PUTRAJAYA: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law Minister) Datuk Liew Vui Keong (pic) expressed displeasure over Daily Express’s front page yesterday where the Prime Minister said he was unaware of the complaints by Sabah leaders on the three issues, lately.
This is what Liew said in his statement issued Saturday below: “I am deeply disturbed by the unprofessionalism of the news reporting today by Daily Express which published a distorted and incorrect statement of what Prime Minister YAB Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammed said today in response to a series of questions asked by Mr. James Sarda, the Chief Editor of Daily Express.
“In today’s Daily Express news articles, it was falsely reported that:- Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he is surprised to learn that Sabah Government leaders have been complaining about not being consulted on recent decisions taken at the Federal level.”
Responding to a Daily Express question that as a Pakatan Harapan-friendly government their views should at least have been sought or considered on major decisions like the departure levy, appointment of the new Universiti Malaysia Sabah Vice Chancellor and introduction of Jawi in primary schools next year, he said:“As far as I’m concerned, they (Sabahan representatives in the Federal Cabinet) did not say anything. “However, the Prime Minister didn’t say what James had distortedly reported. I’ve listened and watched the relevant video recording of the press conference today. “The Prime Minister had clearly said: “Well, the Sabah Government did not say anything to us, only you (James Sarda) said it.

“Nowhere in the Prime Minister’s response had mentioned my Sabahan colleagues and I had never raised our concerns in the cabinet on major issues such as departure levy, appointment of the new University Malaysia Sabah Vice Chancellor and introduction of Jawi in primary schools next year. The Sabah Daily Express’s report is clearly unfounded.  “As ministers for all Malaysians and together with all my cabinet colleagues, we strive to carry out our duties to the best of our abilities, to rebuild our nation, pushing for institutional reform and addressing nationwide social and economic inequality, and eradicate corruption.  “I hereby demand for a retraction, correction, and an apology in respect of the false statements published by Sabah Daily Express. Lastly, I call upon all Malaysians to reject unethical media reporting who distort the truth to create social tensions and unrest. Thank you.”

P.S: It only goes to show James Sarda of Daily Express is a true professional. He prefers not to be caught up in pretending to know what the PM meant when he said “Sabah government”, but only assume and leave it to them to ask the PM himself. VK Liew didn’t respond, he degenerated into name calling and trying to manufacture another controversy.

And here is the video recording of the press conference Dr Mahathir had SPECIFICALLY said ” SABAH GOVERNMENT” . Listen…


“One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician’s objective. Election and power are” – Cal Thomas

This is one subject that could take an encyclopedia to wrap up but lets try and figure it out within the scope of this space.

Malaysian politics is often described as being feisty, vibrant, colourful, controversial, debatable, provocative, all of that and more. It all depends on which side of the spectrum you stand and there is a perspective, always. Ask a million people what is wrong with Malaysian politics and you will get a million perspectives. That, in itself tells a story. People are aware, concerned and involved, good or bad, it shows the vibrancy of politics in Malaysia.

People confuse politics with governance. That’s not true. Politics is the means to effect change. All countries and societies effect change all the time; politics is the means to bring about that change. The kind of politics practiced can vary and remain a subject of debate. However, it is at the core of people’s participation in deciding who governs them and how.

Governance is for administrators and bureaucracy, politics is for people’s representatives. People don’t really indulge in politics, they indulge in making political choices and gather groups that agree with them, to elect the leader of their choice. Politics is what the leaders indulge in before and after being elected.

The art of politics lies in being successful in gathering consensus through discussion, debate and persuasion and then pushing that consensus into legislation that results in action and implementation.

What’s Right With Malaysian Politics?

So when we ask what is wrong with Malaysian politics, you have to first acknowledge what is right about it. After all, after 55 years since formation of Malaysia in 1963, Malaysian politics and democracy is alive and vibrant. It becomes even more relevant when we take into account the sheer geographical size of the country and diversity of its people, culture, religion and lifestyle. To get all of that to come together and give people the freedom to choose their voice, can only evoke admiration. This is perhaps Malaysia’s single biggest achievement, since formation and one, it can be proud of.

Sure, it has its flaws, but then what system doesn’t. It’s all about evolving and bringing about change, for the better, through people consensus. That’s politics and it has worked for Malaysia. So before we pull out the knives on Malaysian politics, bear in mind what we have achieved, thus far. It may not be without flaws but it is still the best option. This is our brand of politics and it has worked, for us.

So What’s Wrong With it?

Plenty. We shout over roof tops that we are a democracy and assume that it is also the best. Well, look again. Is the system truly representative? At the time of voting, people make choices based on their belief and understanding of the leader they choose and that leader, post being elected, represents the people, as their voice. That’s idealistic but is that really true? Does the elected leader really reflect what the people want or is it mostly about what that leader wants, often for his own reasons?

Look at the fact on the ground. Majority of Malaysians still live in rural areas and in poverty and poor living conditions especially Sabah and Sarawak and Kelantan and Terengganu and Kedah and Pahang, and with little education or awareness of matters outside their areas of residence. Yet, 98% of the people who would fall in this category are responsible for choosing a government which will legislate over the future of the country.

Too Many Questions….

It is one man – one vote and that is all that matters. Well is it? Is the vast majority really capable of understanding and judging the leaders they choose? The lack of education and awareness, coupled with poverty, often forces the voters to elect leaders who seem to offer them solutions for a better life but instead end up buying or coercing them to vote. So do they really represent the people?

Isn’t it common to see votes being bought and sold in its crudest form? Don’t we see vote bank politics being practiced in its worst form, or votes being garnered on the basis of race or religion? What about votes garnered through threat? It all happens and is part of Malaysian politics.

So can anyone stand up and claim the virtues of Malaysian democracy as being truly fair and truly representative? Should we really beat our chests with pride while proudly claiming to be a democracy?

Free and Fair…. Really?

The ground reality is that politics played at the grass root level can be nasty, coercive and corrupt. Electing representatives is often based on clan and kinship. And most times, its money that buys a position. After all, at the village level, it’s the Ketua Kampung, JKKK, Kapitan Cina, Temenggong, Pemanca or Penghulu that determines the level of respect and influence that an individual commands. That’s the reality and plays a part in the election process.

So can one really say that Malaysian politics be it Sabah or Sarawak or Malaya, at all levels, is truly free and fair? The voting process may be free and fair, at least in most cases, but the process of politics that goes into the run up to elections, and thereafter, is what is questionable. And that’s what is wrong with Malaysian politics.

Let’s take a look at another example. Sabah has always been in the forefront of entertaining politics. But after elections when the courts have to decide who is the rightful Sabah Chief Minister and not wait for a vote of no confidence in the state assembly, it is time to sit up and question the ‘quality’ of politics that we practice. GE14, Musa Aman was first sworn in as Chief Minister at 11.10pm Thursday (May 10) before the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin at Istana Negeri. In less than 48 hours, Warisan’s Shafie Apdal was sworn in as Chief Minister at 9.30pm Saturday (May 12) by Juhar at the Istana Negeri also. The general election saw a hung assembly when both Sabah Barisan and the coalition of Warisan-PKR-DAP had won 29 seats each in the 60-seat state assembly. And then Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan’s Sabah Star party, which had two seats, became the “kingmaker”. Sabah Star supported Sabah Barisan to give a simple majority of 31 seats, thus allowing Musa to be sworn in as Chief Minister. But by the next day, six Barisan assemblymen – four from Umno and two from Upko – had declared their support for Warisan and its partners PKR-DAP. With the majority support of 35 (out of 60) assemblymen, this allowed Shafie to be sworn in.This matter is still not settled yet, The Court of Appeal will soon decide who is the rightful chief Minister, till then we have to wait and there is still a cloud of uncertainty, its more than 8 months since GE14.

The list of misuse in politics is endless and the ‘quality’ of politics practiced, questionable. The intelligentsia and civil society is aware of the failings, as you and I are too, but the big question before us is – what are we doing about it?

Intolerance to Dissent is a Big Threat

Question, dissent and debate are an essential part of politics and democracy. The ‘quality’ of democracy and politics is judged by the level of debate and dissent allowed, within the party and outside of it. Malaysia is witnessing increasing levels of intolerance to the above and that is very visible in state and national politics. Older parties like the UMNO and PAS have shown signs of intolerance, as have new age parties like Bersatu, Amanah and Warisan. All parties are guilty of quashing dissent in any form. What is a worrying trend is that several parties are resorting to violent means whenever questioned by the people or members of their own parties. Even the media, which serves as a watchdog for the people, has not been spared.

Another problem with Malaysian politics is increasing rowdyism in parliament and state assemblies. On paper, it’s a forum for free and fair debate but in practice, only those with high decibel shouting and aggressive behaviour get heard. What chance does a Dr Jeffrey Kitingan have against a loud and aggressive politician from another party? Yet, on a daily basis we have incessant shouting that passes off as debate. So is this fair on those who do not possess the requisite shouting ability? Is that supposed to be a pre-qualification? The voice of each representative in Parliament must have equal and fair weight and must be given equal opportunity to express his or her viewpoint. That’s easier said, as in practice, it is almost always to the contrary.

And now for the biggest problem of them all, influence and impact of money on Malaysian politics. Politics has degenerated into a business which has a lot of money, some legal but mostly unaccounted, being plowed into it by vested interests. It’s a global phenomenon but a big problem nevertheless. As long as unaccounted money makes its way into politics, it will never be free or fair. And we, as a nation, have to come together to try and figure out how to address this, if Malaysian democracy has to prosper on the bed of fair politics.

It is time for the people to raise their voice and question their leaders and political parties, and force them to change for the better. For we have one non-negotiable weapon, our vote. Isn’t that what democracy is all about?


Sabah is currently facing a constitutional crisis, the state now has two chief ministers.

In the May 9th Sabah state polls, Sabah BN won 29 seats while Warisan, which has working ties with Pakatan Harapan, also secured 29 seats. Two other state seats were won by Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku led by Datuk Dr Jeffry Kitingan.

On May 10th, Musa was sworn-in as the chief minister before the TYT after securing a 31-majority following Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku’s decision to form an alliance with Sabah BN.

On May 12th, Shafie was sworn in as the chief minister after six assemblymen from Musa-led government declared their support to the Warisan’s Shafie Apdal to take over the government.

Both Musa and Shafie have introduced their cabinet line-up after being sworn as chief minister.

Today the 17th of May, Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Musa Aman filed a writ of summons in the High Court seeking a declaration that he is and remains the lawful Sabah Chief Minister.

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The writ was filed through Messrs F.T. Ahmad and Co, which is acting for Musa.

Musa named Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin as the first respondent and Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal as the second respondent.

Lawyer Tengku Fuad Tengku Ahmad, in a statement, said Musa was seeking a declaration, among others, that he is and remains the lawful Chief Minister and that the purported swearing in of Shafie as a second Chief Minister by the state of head was unconstitutional.

“The writ also seeks a declaration that any and all acts by Shafie whilst purporting to be the Chief Minister are also null and void and of no effect.

The court fixed June 19 to hear the suit before Justice Ravinthran Paramaguru.

Now the question is: does the TYT have the power to revoke Chief Minister Musa Aman’s appointment, sworn in lawfully, in the presence of the the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Tan Sri Richard Malanjum?

According to retired federal court judge Gopal Sri Ram, the head of state could not revoke Musa’s appointment even if Shafie now showed he had the majority support.

UPDATES – 24th August 2018

Mohd Shafie Apdal today failed in his bid to strike out former Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman’s originating summons challenging his (Mohd Shafie’s) appointment as the new Chief Minister on May 12.

Justice Yew Jen Kie when delivering her decision through teleconferencing in the Kota Kinabalu High Court , said Musa as the plaintiff in the case, had raised a question of law which rendered the originating summonses unsuitable to be struck out summarily.

“Upon perusal of the affidavits and submission of the parties, I am satisfied that the plaintiff has raised a question of law which requires full consideration which renders the originating summons unsuitable to be struck out summarily.

“As such, I dismiss the striking-out application with costs in the cause,” she said.

In this regard, Yew ordered Musa to file his submission on the originating summons against Mohd Shafie on or before Sept 14, while the Mohd Shafie is file his on or before Sept 24.

Musa is also to file his reply on Oct 5.

Yew set Oct 26 to deliver her decision.

Mohd Shafie was represented by counsel Douglas Lind, while Musa’s counsels were Tengku Fuad Tengku Ahmad and Suku Vanugopal.

State Attoney-General Zaleha Rose Pandin and Dayangku Fazidah Hatun Pg Bagul represented Sabah Governor Juhar Mahiruddin.

Mohd Shafie filed the application on June 5 to strike out the suit on the grounds that Musa had no valid reason to challenge his appointment on May 12 as the new chief minister.

The following day, Musa filed a fresh suit against the Sabah governor and Shafie, in place of the suit filed on May 17, seeking a declaration that he (Musa) was the rightful chief minister of Sabah.

Musa was sworn in as chief minister on May 10 after securing simple majority in the 14th general election but lost the majority when several assemblymen from his party (Umno) and from a BN component party (Upko) jumped ship to give their support to Parti Warisan Sabah lead by Mohd Shafie.

– Bernama

UPDATES OCTOBER 25, 2018

KOTA KINABALU, Oct 25 — The High Court here will decide on November 7 if the appointment of Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal as chief minister by Head of State Tun Juhar Mahiruddin on May 12 is lawful.

Judge Yew Jen Kie set the date after hearing four and a half hours of submissions in the suit filed by former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman, who is seeking to nullify Shafie’s appointment.


If we consider the political scenario of Sabah, we find very few effective and influential leaders. The reason being, the majority of the political parties are still using the old ways of influencing the voters with religion and race based politics and we lack leaders with strong development agenda coupled with tough decision-making capabilities. To stay at par with the fast changing world, we cannot rely on politicians who have been using the traditional political games for their own benefits. But, there have been some leaders who have been successful to eliminate the stagnancy of the political borders and proved themselves as influential leaders focused on the development and a work-oriented approach.

Tan Sri Musa Aman, the Chief Minister of Sabah, has been one of the most inspiring leader who has emerged in the Sabah political landscape and given a ray of hope to Sabahans.

Musa Aman, became the Chief Minister of Sabah in 2003. He has proved his credibility and capability by fulfilling all the promises made during the elections in the past 14 years. Another differentiating factor for Musa has been his clean image and zero tolerance towards corruption. Although his stance has been one of the reasons for a feud with some of the former senior party leaders, Musa Aman has proved his toughness by taking strict actions whenever required. This clean, clear and straight approach certainly puts him in a different league of his own.

When it comes to development, no other CM or Menteri Besar in the country can match up to Musa’s level. Under his regime, various exemplary infrastructure projects have been undertaken and initiated, the major projects include Sabah Pan Borneo Highway a 706-kilometre highway upgraded from a two-lane dual carriageway to a four-lane, the building and upgrading of roads included three multi-level interchanges in Kota Kinabalu, the multi-billion ringgit Tanjung Aru Eco-Development project which will transform Tanjung Aru into one of the region’s best tourist spots. And as of Sept this year, the number of projects approved is 647 namely 304 extension projects and 343 new projects. Among the projects are the, rural clean drinking water and electricity supplies, rural roads and people’s housing programme.

Other initiatives such as parks, cycling tracks, stadiums, promotion of rural tourism, tree plantation drives and even releasing of baby sea turtles hatchings and the free Wifi service in Kota Kinabalu has gained Musa a large following and a feeling of belongingness even with the youth of the state.

The launching of the first Malaysia Art School (Sekolah Seni Malaysia) Sabah at the Sandakan Education Hub is another example. The love of art and music among Sabahans is obvious and the setting up of the art school in Sandakan has provided space and opportunity for youngsters who want to pursue their studies in arts. Sabah is known for its different ethnics, races and cultures and Sabahans are also known to be talented in arts and singing. Sabah is a rich repository of art, culture and traditions and the state government under Musa has committed to preserve and further promote it and the youth can play a vital role in this direction. Hence, this art school in the Sandakan Education Hub will not only ensure that  Sabah traditional cultures such as dances will not be lost in time, but it will also provide opportunities for Sabahans to enhance their talents in arts. Besides, music is food for the soul and Sabah is universally acclaimed for its diverse folk songs and versatile musicians.

The chief minister knows the youth are the key players in the process of development and the state government has to empower them with positive perspectives so as to fully harness their potential. And hence, providing training,  adequate employment and self-employment opportunities to the youth of the state was the prime concern of the state government.

When it comes to the younger generations and people concerned about development using new-age technologies, Musa Aman has made a mark for himself, which is next to impossible for anyone else to achieve. With the digitization of various government departments, a host of useful apps for information and faster grievance redressal, instant assistance and help for emergency situations, Musa has made the best optimal utilization of technology for the modernization of the state and benefit of the people. Although we usually hear the terms women safety and empowerment frequently in the political manifestos, it has been actually implemented in Sabah with schemes like Sabah Women TH50 an entrepreneurial programme ‘Creating Millionaires Among Young Women Entrepreneurs (Cream)’ and Micro Credit & Usahawan Desa.

According to so many Opinion Polls, Musa is ranked as one of the best Chief Minister across Malaysia. So, when we come to his comparison with the past CM’s of the state, nobody stands even close to him for consideration. If we take into account the upcoming general elections expected before May 2018, the CM candidate for Gabungan Sabah is Dr Jeffrey Kitingan while Shafie Apdal being the CM candidate for PH Warisan plus. Considering these leaders, Musa definitely comes as a preferred choice for the people due to his clean image and orientation towards development.

After 14 years Musa has not only proved to be a successful leader whose agenda is development and modernization but also he has displayed a strong political acumen. His ideology of “Work says it all”, displays his confidence of the several positive developments undertaken by him. Previously, Sabah used to be in the news only for the wrong reasons and various controversies surrounding the CMs, but due to the efforts and personal character of Musa, the perception of people has changed towards Sabah, Sabah is seen in a good and positive light. While it becomes difficult to compare any existing and potential candidate with him for the position of the Chief Minister of Sabah, if we take into account the previous 12 chief ministers of Sabah ( Faud Stephens, Peter Lo, Tun Mustapha, Mohammad Said Keruak, Harris Salleh, Pairin Kitingan, Tun Sakaran Dandai, Salleh Said Keruak, Yong Teck Lee, Bernard Dompok, Osu Sukam and Chong Kah Keat), Musa Aman certainly emerges out as one of the best and most influential CM until now.

 



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.


Hello everybody!

It’s here!! The final stretch for our Kickstarter campaign. There are only 7 more days to go before the campaign ends!! With still more than half way to go to reach our goal I implore you to rally those around you, friends, family, colleagues, somewhat friendly acquaintances, anybody you can get to please help support our film. We really want this film to reach an audience and to do that we need every single pledge we can get. The issue of stateless people in Sabah is one that directly affects Sabah’s socio-economic landscape and the growing population of stateless individuals is one of the bigger problems that has been plaguing Sabah. It is high-time this issue was addressed and awareness on the human implications of the situation cultivated.

As promised we have prepared a clip from the film that showcases the opinions of various knowledgeable sources on the dilemma. I hope you enjoy the video and you have not yet pledged please pledge any amount you can so we can get this film out to the public.

Many thanks,

Azliana

 

Di Ambang: Stateless in Sabah


This is a comment piece by my friend Joe Fernandez on yesterday’s highly anticipated debate between two former Chief Ministers – Tan Sri Harris Salleh and Datuk Yong Teck Lee.

by Joe Fernandez

COMMENT If there are any lessons that emerged from a “non-debate”, of sorts, between two former Chief Ministers of Sabah on a cold rainy Fri evening in Kota Kinabalu, it was this: “that ignorance is bliss in matters of law, Parliament and the Constitution and that a little knowledge is dangerous”; that even the best subject matter expert opinion would have little chance against a wall of ignorance acting in perhaps good faith and with little else to go on.

Siapa yang makan cili akan rasa pedasnya!

If the cap fits, wear it!

Moderator Simon Sipaun, a former Sabah State Secretary, had his hands full keeping Harris Salleh, 83, from interrupting his opponent Yong Teck Lee, 55.

The debate was supposed to be about Sabah’s rights in the Federation of Malaysia which entered its 51st year on 16 Sept last month. Fifty years of Malaysia, in particular in the Borneo nations of Sabah and Sarawak, is a watershed year. The word out in the streets in Borneo is that there must be some form of consensus on the way forward. If the past 50 years is any indication, the people want no more of it.

Harris and Yong, going hammer-and-tongs against each other offered little help here. Yong was more than willing to help forge consensus on a way forward but for the most part Harris refused to play ball. He took no baits.

Harris, chief minister from 1976 to 1985, was the past which refuses to go away and offered little clues in forging a way forward for the next 50 years.

Yong brings up four issues for Debate, Harris only one

Yong, chief minister from May 1996 to April 1998, had to concede at least in his heart that he had little chance to begin with against Harris in their impromptu debate on Fri 11 Oct, 2013 at the Sabah Golf and Country Club in the Sabah capital.

He was “out-done” by Harris on all fronts in a way that only the latter could do: dismissed in a few words and sentences; or otherwise berated and out-shouted when it came to the law, Parliament and the Constitution. Yong did most of the talking; taking up his full 15 minutes allotted for every issue, while Harris did not go beyond three minutes each time on each issue.

Yong is a British-trained lawyer. Harris had only six years of school education.

One story making the rounds is that Harris was once offered a place as a mature student to do the Bar in London but apparently dropped the idea when another student in a similar situation as him gave up the idea after three years in the British capital. It must have been the English language. Had Harris completed his Bar, perhaps he could have had a better idea of the difference between Rule of Law and Rule by Law and that the Constitution is not so much about law but the ultimate political document.

Yong had four issues to bring up during the Debate: the 20 Points (20P)/1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63); the Petroleum Development Act/Oil Agreement; the surrender of Labuan island to the Federal Government; the power grab incident and the street riots which broke out in Kota Kinabalu in 1985 when the Berjaya Government headed by Harris was thrashed by the 45-day old Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) led by Joseph Pairin Kitingan in state elections that year.

Yong pledges to “shoot himself” if White Paper on SAS implicates him

Harris merely wanted Yong to explain to the crowd why the shares of the state-sponsored Saham Amanah Sabah (SAS), a unit trust, had fallen from its initial RM 1 offer price and was now hovering at about 0.35 sen. Harris felt that Yong, as a former Chief Minister, owed a duty of care to the 66,000 SAS holders – mostly Chinese housewives — saddled with bank loans in buying their stake.

Yong explained that Bank Negara (Central Bank) rules prohibited political interference and involvement in SAS or any unit trust. In short, he had no role in the misfortunes of SAS, no matter how much he sympathized with the stake holders. Yong’s successors have since tried injecting Sabah Government assets into SAS, in a bid to boost the unit trust price, but to no avail.

The SAS issue remains a political hot potato and Yong has paid a heavy price for it. In General Elections this May, his PBS-breakaway Sabah Progressive Party (Sapp) failed to win even a single seat in the Federal and state legislatures. SAS was by no means the only reason but that’s another story.

Yong wants the Sabah Government to release a White Paper on SAS and pledged twice, dramatically with a fore finger to his head, that he would “shoot himself” if the White Paper on the SAS found any wrongdoing (criminal) on his part.

Harris denied that the street riots of 1985 were masterminded by the losing Berjaya leaders who allegedly hired illegal immigrants to go on a rampage of burning and general mayhem.

He admitted, in downplaying the riots, that there might have been “a little burning” but was rebutted by Yong waving pictures of the incident from the newspapers and pointing out that a curfew had to be imposed. The latter also stressed that local Muslims – Dusun and other Orang Asal (Natives), Suluk, Bajau and other Muslims – were not involved in the riots “meant to pressure the Federal Government into declaring a state of emergency” to facilitate the take over of the Sabah Government from PBS.

Mustapha failed to persuade Court on early bird theory

Harris attributed the riots to the “Malay Muslims’ being cheated by PBS in not forming a coalition government with United Sabah National Organisation (Usno). Harris is Brunei Malay on his mother’s side. His father was Indian. There are very few Malays in Sabah.

The “cheating”, Harris claimed, was behind the infamous power grab incident which saw Usno and Suluk leader Mustapha Harun clambering over the walls of the Istana (palace) in the wee hours of the morning and having himself sworn in as Chief Minister.

Usno, defeated by Berjaya in 1976, came in with 17 seats in the 1985 state elections, Berjaya had six and PBS took 25. The power grab incident saw Usno and Berjaya disingenuously forming a coalition Government together with six nominated state assemblymen. Mustapha, explaining the power grab, said that “the early bird catches the worm”. He was ousted within days by the Court which he tried to persuade with the “early bird” theory.

Harris cautioned the crowd against referring to every Tom, Dick and Harry in Sabah as an illegal immigrant. He pointed out that the present Governor was a Suluk, yet the Suluks in Sabah – and also the Bugis among others – were being referred to as illegal immigrants. He claimed that the Suluk – people from the southern Philippines like the Bajau — had been in Sabah the last 500 years and the Bugis (from Celebes, Indonesia) have also been here for a very long time.

Whenever Harris came up short in the argument, he had one constant piece of advice for Yong throughout the debate which turned out to be a stormy affair that lasted three hours: campaign hard throughout Malaysia, win two thirds majority in Parliament, amend the Constitution, and reinstate the 20P and the MA63 to set up a “banana republic” and/or win independence for Sabah and Sarawak.

He offered to be Speaker of the new Sabah Parliament, proposed his former Berjaya Deputy Mat Nor Mansor — a Brunei Malay now with Sapp – as the Sultan of Sabah and Yong as Prime Minister.

Parliament Supreme and can do anything on 20P/MA63

For Sarawak, he urged Yong to look around for a Dayak leader to be the new Rajah of that country in echoes of the Brooke Dynasty of white rajahs from England (1841 to 1941) who once ruled there for some 105 years.

It was Harris’ considered opinion that the 20P and MA63 no longer matter, that they had either been incorporated in the Federal Constitution or done away with through amendments in Parliament and in the State Assembly. He did not mention any part of the 20P/MA63 being excluded from the Federal and State Constitutions.

Yong begged to differ and wants the Sabah Government, for a start, to amend the State Constitution and restore Sabah’s status as a Negara (nation) in the Federation, a key point in the 20P.

He explained that he could not do anything on 20P/MA63 during his term a Chief Minister as the Federal Government was very powerful at that time and the “window of opportunity” did not present itself until the 2008 General Election when Sabah and Sarawak came centre stage as the Kingmakers in Parliament.

He echoed the popular view that that there was no Malaysia without 20P/MA63 which formed the basis for both Sabah and Sarawak to be in the Federation with Malaya. He wants the letter and spirit of both constitutional documents on Malaysia to be upheld, honoured and respected. His plea if true will fall on deaf years, Harris retorted.

Both Speakers did not touch on the need to interpret the intention of the framers of the various constitutional documents on Malaysia in a manner which reflected as if they contained a Basic Features Doctrine i.e. the 20P/MA63 could not be amended out of the Federal and state constitutions, done away with or not included.

Harris wants to take on Jeffrey Kitingan on colonisation

Sensing that the mood of the crowd was definitely against him, Harris denied that he was consistently taking a pro-Federal Government line on Sabah.

He claimed disingenuously in a simplistic brief that he was more concerned about the thinking among the people in Sabah on Malaysia. The Muslims, he stressed, would attribute their poverty to fate. The others including those in the kampungs (villages), he anguished, blamed Putrajaya for demolishing State rights – the famous 20P – and/or otherwise being in non-compliance on MA63.

Turning at one point on Bingkor State Assemblyman and State Reform Party (Star) chairman Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, who was seated in the front row, Harris reminded him that he had no response to his offer in a local daily (Daily Express) to debate him and other activists on the issue of whether Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia) had been in colonial occupation of Sabah and Sarawak since the British departure in 1963. The issue is that there was no Referendum on the British leaving Sabah and Sarawak after their independence – 31 Aug and 22 July 1963 — in a Federation with Malaya on 16 Sept 1963, whether expanded or new.

Harris obviously feels compelled, even though long in retirement, to speak up whenever something doesn’t quite jell with his weltanschauung (worldview).

Jeffrey had no opportunity to explain that a Right of Reply delivered to the said newspaper by the UK-based Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (BOPIM) chairman Daniel John Jambun was not carried by it until the Debate day. (It was carried the next day after the Debate almost a week late.)

“No one” held under ISA for opposing Labuan handover

Harris warned Yong at one time during the debate not to imply in any manner that he had sold Labuan Island, ostensibly to become an International Offshore Financial Centre, to the Federal Government. He challenged Yong to repeat any insinuations against him on Labuan outside the debate hall and promised to retaliate with a swift lawsuit against him. He mentioned that there was already a lawsuit pending in Court on Labuan and the matter was subjudice.

Harris stressed, in response to a question from the floor, that the question of seeking compensation for Labuan did not arise at the moment since the island was a losing concern. Similarly, the Sabah Electricity Board was handed over to the federal Government without compensation because it was another losing concern.

Harris denied that anyone had been held under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) for opposing the Labuan handover and dismissed a statement on the issue by one Darshan Singh from the floor. Darshan spent some time in detention without trial under the ISA apparently for opposing the Labuan handover. A lawyer in the crowd confided that he was standing next to Darshan when the latter was detained but escaped arrest, according to him, because he was “a Muslim”.

Yong disclosed that he was in Labuan on handover day and witnessed the Federal Reserve Units and Royal Malay regiments out in full force on the island to put on an intimidating display of brute force apparently to deter any opposition. It was a defining moment for Yong as he vowed then and there to enter opposition politics to oust the Berjaya Government.

Harris, not so long ago, picked up RM 1 million in Court-awarded damages from Yong in a defamation suit where the Judge held that the latter had implied that the former had “blood on his hands”. This was a reference to the tragic 6 June, 1976 air crash which wiped out almost the entire Sabah Cabinet led by Berjaya President Donald Fuad Stephens. Harris became Chief Minister by default and days later signed the infamous Oil Agreement with Petronas, the National Oil Corporation, and the Federal Government.

Harris, in response to Yong and questions from the floor, denied that he had been under any pressure to sign the oil agreement. Nevertheless, he disclosed that there was only RM 2 million in the kitty left by the ousted Mustapha Government. Signing the Oil Agreement meant an immediate cash infusion from Petronas in the form of Oil Royalty amounting to 5 per cent.

Besides, added Harris, Sarawak and Terengganu had earlier signed the Oil Agreements. If he had not signed, he ventured, “it would look as if Sarawak and Terengganu were stupid to do so”.

Harris claimed, in defending the Oil Agreement, that it was “international law” – at one time he even referred to the Law of the Sea – that onshore waters belong to Sabah and that the offshore belonged to the Federal Government.

Parliament Supreme and can do anything on 20P/MA63

He begged to disagree with Yong’s take that the boundary of Sabah was what it had at the time that it was taken/pushed by the British into the Federation of Malaysia. Yong, while not faulting Harris for it, also pointed out that the Oil Blocks L and M handed over to Brunei not so long ago were within Malaysia’s maritime boundaries in Sabah and Sarawak.

Harris showed little evidence during the Debate of the articulate self presented of him in the numerous press statements purportedly attributed to him in the local media, the Daily Express in particular.

Age, in any case, may be catching up with Harris in more ways than one. He had little patience with issues brought up by Yong, and in no mood to be apologetic, even displaying open defiance in taking a pro-Federal Government line in Sabah.

The crowd had turned up in the mistaken belief that Harris would concede that mistakes had been made during his time in public office and that he harboured more than his fair share of regrets.

On a plus note, Harris is willing to join the pro-20P/MA63 activists in Borneo if it can be demonstrated in any way that there’s probably a “cause for action” and that “any lost rights can be recovered”.

Parliament, he reminded, was Supreme and can do anything in explaining the perception that the 20P/MA63 had not been honoured. He failed to mention that the Veto Powers of Sabah and Sarawak in Parliament, a pledge under MA63, had been done away with by the Election Commission, the Attorney General and the Registrar of Societies.

Longtime Borneo watcher Joe Fernandez is a graduate mature student of law and an educationist, among others, who loves to write especially Submissions for Clients wishing to Act in Person. He also tutors at local institutions and privately. He subscribes to Dr Stephen Hawking’s “re-discovery” of the ancient Indian theory that “the only predictable property of the universe is chaos”. He feels compelled, as a semi-retired journalist, to put pen to paper — or rather the fingers to the computer keyboard — whenever something doesn’t quite jell with his weltanschauung (worldview) or to give a Hearing to All. He shuttles between points in the Golden Heart of Borneo formed by the Sabah west coast, Labuan, Brunei, northern Sarawak and the watershed region in Borneo where three nations meet. He’s half-way through a semi-autobiographical travelogue, A World with a View . . . http://fernandezjoe.blogspot.com/



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.


In February, Musa Aman seemed a trifle embattled. The Lahad Datu standoff the intrusion of almost 200 armed Filipinos in Lahad Datu, 10 of our Security Forces were killed – for the first time in his decade-long rule in Sabah, the Chief Minister was feeling the pressure.

But come April, as he announced his election manifesto, neatly appropriating the legacy of the state leader, Musa Aman had put behind him all disadvantages of the month before. He then set off to the length and breadth of the state showcasing his “Vibrant Sabah” policy. The message was lost on none – Musa Aman was still a crowd puller.

After eleven days of campaigning, as the Sabah Chief Minister reaches the fag end of his final round of campaigning, the biggest question being asked is – will that charisma continue to translate into votes for the Barisan National? Surveys and analysts predict yet another victory for man who has adroitly changed his image to development role model. At stake are bigger ambitions – Musa Aman reckons another impressive victory could propel him to be the longest serving chief minister of Sabah, breaking the 9 yrs jinx. But is this road a smooth one?

All I can say is- The situation in 2004 and 2008 is very different from that of 2013.

The ending of the rotation of chief minister every 2 years in 2004 saw Musa winning hands down. By 2008 Musa had begun constructing his new avatar, that of able administrator. But 2013 is without any emotive issue except for the Lahad Datu standoff. The fragmented opposition has managed to keep the election battle low profile, avoiding another bad showing like 2008. That has forced Musa Aman to keep his campaign confined to development as the key agenda.

But does that suit Musa Aman? “Not at all,” says a political commentator, who later add that, “His political existence and shrill rhetoric is what makes him an unstoppable leader. But this time there seems to be no emotive issue. The developmental plank can’t excite voters to a decisive point.”

Musa Aman, the master strategist, realises this. And so, analysts say, he has attempted to add another element to his electioneering this time, projecting this to be not only a Sabah vs Pakatan Rakyat battle but also the personality battle between Musa Aman and Anwar Ibrahim. By taking the battle to a new level, he is sending a very subtle message to the electorate. He may not concede his national ambitions but when he talks about the Sabah vs Pakatan Rakyat battle, he is sending out a message; here is a Sabah leader who can stop Anwar Ibrahim from taking the throne in Putrajaya. If that’s the case, 2013 will, in a way, establish what connects Musa Aman to three million Sabahans. If he wins yet again it clearly establishes that even without a polarized vote, Musa Aman can win based on a campaign revolving around development.

But this road is not without potholes.

Though pre-poll survey and pundits say former Deputy Chief Ministers Lajim Ukim and Wilfred Bumburing are unlikely to do much damage to Musa Aman. The L & B factor, as it’s is called in these parts, could play spoiler at least in the politically critical Beaufort and Tuaran region. Lajim had won a huge majority in the Beaufort Parliamentary last time in 2008, but this time both Lajim and Wilfred could play a role in obtaining less than half a dozen seats. After all Lajim represents the all-powerful Bisaya community and Bumburing represents the Dusuns to an extend, which is a sizable chunk of the electorate. But the basic problem with L & B would be absence of an organizational structure since both are using unregistered NGOs PPPS (Pertubuhan Pakatan Perubahan Sabah)and APS ( Angkatan Perubahan Sabah) riding on Pakatan Rakyat, to topple Musa Aman as chief minister. Lajim is politicising the position of “Janang Gayuh”, causing disunity among the Bisaya, a Dusunic group, found only in the Beaufort region. Lajim ran away from UMNO because he knew he would not be fielded this time, the same with Bumburing and UPKO who didn’t want him to stand in Tuaran. To be honest, what has Lajim and Bumburing done the last 30 years? Zilch.

After eleven days of campaigning in this 13th General Elections, Musa Aman is looking to retain power again, thus enabling Sabah to live up to the tag of being “the fixed deposit” of the BN. Despite the opposition pact’s onslaught for the parliamentary battle, Sabah BN is likely to win most of the seats won in the 2008 general elections. However, BN can expect tough fights for Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau, Beaufort, Tuaran, Penampang, Sepanggar, Pensiangan, Kota Belud and Kota Marudu parliamentary seats. In the 2008 general elections, Sabah BN won 59 of the 60 state seats and 24 of the 25 parliamentary seats, losing the Sri Tanjung state seat and the Kota Kinabalu parliamentary seat to the opposition DAP.

The determining factor for BN’s ability to continue ruling Sabah lies in the fact that the coalition is more united in facing the elections, while the oppositon is pitted not just against BN but also against each other. Despite pre-election calls for the opposition parties to reach an understanding so as to ensure straight fights with the BN, only the Tanjung Batu State seat and Sandakan parliamentary seat are seeing one-to- one contests.

The decision by Star Sabah (Sabah Reform Party), SAPP (Sabah Progressive Party) and PKR to field almost equal number of candidates for the state seats is clear example of serious faction among them. Given the bickering among them, its hard to imagine any one of them winning enough seats to become the leader of the pack. On top of that, PKR’s insincere gesture of offering SAPP a limited number of state seats has resulted in the latter completely abandoning the hope of wanting to work with the peninsula-based party. There are campaign whispers alleging that SAPP had received RM60 million from BN to split votes in favour of the ruling coalition. Worst still during a ceramah in Foh Sang Kota Kinabalu which I personally witnessed, SAPP was on a DAP bashing spree causing distrust among the voters.

Dr Jeffrey Kitingan’s STAR on the other hand, the youngest parties of the lot, is making unexpected inroads particularly among the mostly Christian Kadazandusun Murut community in the interiors, and the BN message is as such tailored to them. So, if Pakatan cannot turn things around, it can only likely bag the Chinese-majority seats of Sandakan, Tawau and Kota Kinabalu, while in Beaufort where incumbent Lajim Ukin, who is contesting on PKR’s ticket, is likely to pull through. Pensiangan could be taken by Dr Jeffrey’s Star Sabah. SAPP is most likely not able to get even one seat.

With the end of the race just days away it is evident that winning big is extremely important to Musa Aman and how Sabahans vote will decide the road map to power politics in Putrajaya.


Even before the May polls campaign process has reached full momentum in the state of Sabah, three generalisations dominate the marketplace of political ideas about its consequences:

a) that a third-time victory for chief minister Musa Aman in Sabah is nearly certain;
b) since this victory is a foregone conclusion, the time is ripe for a bigger role for Musa Aman

and

c) this victory is likely to be a direct outcome of ‘good governance’, understood primarily as robust economic growth, delivered under Musa’s leadership.

I see this approach as problematic for two reasons: in terms of method, it seems that QED has been etched in even before one could see the proof of what one set out to examine. More importantly, however, there is a certain naivete in this formulation that leads us to a complacence in examining the very complicated and nuanced role of electoral competition currently being witnessed in this state. I engage myself with unravelling this second strand, as viewed in the terrain of practical politics, analysing the strategies and counter-strategies of the main contenders—the ruling BN/UMNO the Pakatan Rakyat the Star Sabah and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP). I then examine the robustness of each of these three ‘generalisations’, and in conclusion argue that although it is an advantage to Musa Aman, there is political competition to be witnessed before one could declare the match won.

For one, the Pakatan Rakyat Sabah in the field does not have a sense of local issues, an understanding of pockets of disadvantage, and also a macro-strategy of where to deploy its energies spatially. In not associating themselves with Sabahan struggles against Malayan colonisation, the party has been aligning itself on the wrong side of popular grievances. Anwar Ibrahim’s campaigns will be of disadvantage, given his historical roots in the toppling of the duly elected PBS government in 1994 and his hands together with Dr Mahathir’s in the Project IC to dilute the native population in the state. Also Pakatan’s lineup, who is going to be chief minister if they win? Lajim as chief minister? Bumburing? Tamrin? Ansari? Who? They have no one of Musa Aman’s standing and Musa’s record of governance the last ten years can speak for itself.

For the SAPP the party’s grassroots base was not evident even in the Batu Sapi parliamentary by-elections held on 2010. Besides, the SAPP had a low vote-share of 10 per cent or less even in the March 2008 elections. This will not be translated evenly into enough seats for the party this coming GE 13th May 5. Also, the margins of losing are very low. The party’s President, Yong Teck Lee failure to win over Pakatan’s Ansari in the Batu Sapi parliamentary by elections means even the Chinese in Sandakan have rejected the SAPP. SAPP’s most impressive pre-poll offering has been its “Autonomi for Sabah” battle cry, promising new Sabah IC for Sabahans if it comes to power, is questionable because they have been in the BN government for 14 years and Yong Teck Lee had been chief minister of Sabah for 2 years yet did not do zilch.

Part of the Star Sabah strategy is to focus on the interiors of Sabah, Jeffrey Kitingan’s roost, where it is said that the natives are disgruntled. As a macro-strategy, the Star Sabah is concentrating on the interiors of Sabah, where natives who are farmers have been adversely hit by high prices of fertilizers and agrochemicals and cost of essentials rocketing sky high The region accounts for nearly a third of the total seats and is the stronghold of PBS supremo Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan the “Huguan Siou”or paramount chief of the Kadazandusun Murut community, the backbone of UMNO Sabah. There is a story about Pairin saying his bids this time is his last battle to retain both constituencies of Keningau and Tambunan for the Barisan Nasional in the interest of the people, meaning Jeffrey will have a tough time to win in Keningau. Besides, there is no tacit approval by Pairin to the natives that Jeffrey will takeover from Pairin, as claimed. As an unfolding of this macro-strategy, Jeffrey might launch the Star Sabah’s manifesto for the May polls’s in Keningau, in the heart of Indigenous Sabah.

Also, the Najib government’s decision to get The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah is of recent vintage, and can win favours for the BN. Natives disgruntlement owing to disadvantages due to the presence of huge numbers of illegals becoming instant Malaysians and Bumiputras. Najib and the Federal Government seriously addressing it by having the RCI on illegals, along with the Lahad Datu drama, makes for a strong force. After all, the defeat of Haris Salleh in 1985‘ was scripted similarly, combining agricultural disgruntlement and fear of illegals reverse taking over of Sabah and sentiments of regional disadvantage.

To the advantage of the Barisan National is the fact that there is no state-wide anti-incumbency even after a decade-long rule by Musa Aman. Economic indicators are certainly robust, with state GDP growth rates averaging 6 to 7 per cent or more (between 2003-12). Interestingly, Musa Aman has raised it to a campaign pitch, telling everyone to “learn” from the Sabah growth story. The sectoral composition of this growth rate, particularly the advances in construction, agriculture and tourism, have received wide attention. Although there have been disputes whether the growth has been as high as Musa Aman claims, even modest estimates available accept agriculture grew at higher than national average at around ten per cent or more. Economists also note the significance of the consistently high growth rate in the agriculture, construction and the tourism sector, notwithstanding the constraints it faces.

But electoral competition, and even more electoral victories, are not simple outcomes of people calculating the benefits of policies and voting for political leaders who set the regional economy right. Were this hypothesis correct, why would Premier Najib Tun Razak have announced a series of cash incentives a year before the May poll dates set in? These include promises of farm loan and free internet usage, electricity bill waivers, enhanced allowances to security personals and civil servants, allowances for youth earning less than RM2000 and payment of arrears to teachers among others and the BR1M and many more goodies. Even the kampong headman has been promised a increase in allowances. The cash transfers build a new constituency of supporters, while countering some of the opposition from the lower bureaucracy and the poor. Advantage to Musa Aman again.

Of greater bearing for electoral fortunes is Musa Aman’s use of political vocabulary and tailoring the campaign language to hype his achievements and castigate the opposition. In state wide ceramahs, the opposition are his target, as if the party’s state unit led by Lajim Hj Okim, Wilfred Bumburing, Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and Anwar Ibrahim has no bearing. To malign the image further, Musa Aman adds that the “Pakatan Rakyat and the local opposition is not united and cannot really be trusted.”

Coming back to the three generalisations I began with, it is the first of which the chances seem highly likely. But Musa Aman’s victory is unlikely to be attained without competition from the local unit of the opposition front. The opposition front has also made pro-poor election promises of housing and employment for the poor, reduction of petrol prices, abolition of PTPTN and Sabah rights. How well they are able to sustain these as campaign issues, and combine their attack along with the challenges from UMNO dissidents, may have very little implications for this election.

The second generalisation about “a bigger role for Musa Aman” for the moment seems to be a ploy to hype the leader into a “larger than real” stature, and is certainly a political statement intended for local Sabah consumption. Finally, robust growth notwithstanding, Musa is not relying on these laurels alone. So also the opposition, which has understood that growth pursued in a certain way produces grievances amongst the displaced and the rural poor, and these can be woven into a counter-campaign strategy. In conclusion, it is advantage Musa Aman, but the battle is yet to be fought.