Umno should not assume that it has a right to monopolise the chief minister’s position in Sabah, says the former PKR vice-president.
KOTA KINABALU: Maverick politician Jeffrey Kitingan, who has seen the best and the worst in state and federal politics for over two decades, wants an end to a pervasive system in Malaysia that allows the prime minister or chief minister to stay in power for decades.
Jeffrey, the former PKR vice-president who now heads NGOs Borneo Heritage Foundation and United Borneo Front (UBF), has urged the federal government to put in place a national policy to limit the term of the prime minister, menteri besar and chief ministers to two terms.
“We should emulate the examples of developed nations and not follow in the footsteps of nations which have a history of long-serving leaders with a reputation for tyranny and dictatorship.
“This nation should continually evolve with a proper succession of leaders so that new ideas for growth and development can be implemented and (new) generations can enhance old policies with new ones,” he said in a statement.
Jeffrey, a former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee, said that if the leadership can be refreshed after every two terms, entire generations would not be bypassed in the decision-making process.
“This is the basis of good governance and is the first step towards the elimination of possessive greed and dominance and cronyism,” he said in an indirect criticism of long-serving leaders who kept a tight rein on the upper echelons of power and refused to give way to younger leaders.
He added Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman should set a good example by vacating his position in the next election as he had already served two terms.
“With so many political parties in Sabah alone, Umno should not assume that it has a right to monopolise the chief minister’s position,” he said.
No Sabah chief minister has ever served more than nine years in power since the British colony joined the federation of Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore (which was expelled in 1965), to form Malaysia in 1963.
While there is no rule in place that says that the next chief minister should be an Umno leader from the state cabinet, it is unlikely the dominant party in the ruling coalition would give way to anyone from another BN component party to lead the state.
Jeffrey thinks that this is blatantly unfair.
He believes local-based political parties should represent their state and should be given priority over federal-based parties like Umno, MCA, Gerakan and MIC.
All four federal-based parties expanded their wings to Sabah in the early 1990s after Umno engineered the fall of the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) government in 1994, and which is now a fellow BN partner.
“The state government has autonomy in accordance with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and as such, should decide policies for the benefit of the state first and foremost.
“If the state cabinet leaders are mere proxies of the federal political parties, they would naturally prioritise federal needs,” Jeffrey said.
He also suggested that if more constituencies were created in Sabah, the extra seats should be divided equitably among local-based parties.
“If we wish to increase Sabah and Sarawak’s voice to cover 35% in Parliament, that 35% should be MPs from local- and not federal-based parties.
“They are more likely to prioritise Borneo’s position in this country.”
Jeffrey also hit out at party hoppers for betraying the electorate.
“Good governance also means that elected candidates have the integrity to resign from their ministerial positions if they switch parties after they have been elected by the people.
“If the people mandated you to win under one ticket, you should have the integrity to step down and go for a by-election if you then decide to rule as a leader under a different ticket.
“This is simply cheating the people of their voting choices.”