In the war of egos in Sabah, Umno and BN need only to sit tight clutching their cash bags, to return as victors.
KOTA KINABALU: It is hard to be honest with ourselves, in fact some never accomplish it. In the case of Pakatan Rakyat members PKR, DAP and PAS, it is questionable if they dug into their deepest level of self-honesty in their decision to contest almost all the seats in Sabah in the 13th general election.
National DAP vice-president Tan Kok Wai’s contentious statement that Pakatan will “sweep all the seats in Sabah, without any room for local parties” has left a bitter taste in the mouths of locals, Chinese and others alike.
No one likes being intimidated or bossed over, that’s what Umno and Barisan Nasional is already doing in Sabah. In fact, that’s what Anwar Ibrahim himself did way back when he was in cahoots with the then leadership. Sabahans remember how Anwar betrayed their trust.
In which case what has Anwar-led Pakatan and its coalition members PKR, DAP and PAS have to offer Sabah? Nothing.
So, what is the real deal?
With Barisan Nasional, it’s an open secret. Everyone from the legalised illegal immigrants to Chief Minister Musa Aman knows Umno and BN’s needs – money, and all of it.
With money comes unimaginable power.
So what is Sabah Pakatan, particularly PKR and DAP, selling here that is bigger and better than Musa, Umno and BN? It’s not self-esteem, because they don’t have that, relying mainly on borrowed confidence – or “tumpang glamour” as they say here
Umno men with PKR shirt
For that matter what can Sabah Pakatan do that local parties, many of whose members are soaked in the realities of the inadequacies in the state, can’t do for themselves?
A cursory question a couple of days ago drew candid remarks from a political observer from Kinabatangan, some 600km from here.
“How far can you fall from the tree ba… they are Umno men with new shirt (PKR).
“Mostly the same yarn… oil royalty they want to give us 20%. They don’t see what they take. It’s Umno inside PKR shirt. How different can the thinking be. They don’t care about us the people. They don’t know us.
“If Pakatan is interested in Sabah people’s welfare, then stay out. Finance local parties… strike a deal,” said the observer.
The view that Pakatan should move out of Sabah and leave the local boys to slug it out with Umno and its now weak allies – LDP, PBS, Upko, PBRS, Gerakan, MCA – is not new.
It’s been in the air for a while but Pakatan is not listening.
No place for Pakatan
Dr Felix Chong, who until recently was DAP Tanjung Aru chief, feels the “arrogance” within DAP, something that wasn’t quite there before the party’s 12-seat win in Sarawak last year.
He now believes it is not possible for peninsula-based parties to champion Sabah’s causes, which in many instances is alien to them.
“Sabah is not the equivalent of any state in Semenanjung (Peninsula) so the agenda of peninsular parties is not necessarily applicable to Sabah. They (peninsular parties) cannot go all out to champion Sabah’s rights and interests.
“Just having elaborate political programmes and ceramah are insufficient.
“If they (peninsular parties) are sincere in helping to restore Sabah’s rights and interests, then they must have an elaborate action plan for Sabah and Sabahans.
“And they must have the political will to implement them,” he said.
Its a valid view. Neither PKR’s Buku Jingga (Orange Book) nor DAP’s manifesto offers deep insights into Sabah.
A local doctor who described himself as a “keen observer of Borneo politics” rubbished PKR’s manifesto.
“Did you read PKR’s manifesto? I read somewhere that the Sabah bit was an annexe sheet that they printed in a hurry before Anwar (Ibrahim) came here.
“That’s how important we are. Sabah cannot be part of a bigger picture anymore.
“Sabah must be THE picture,” he said, alluding to PKR’s contentious proposal in its Sabah Buku Jingga including a plan to legitimise the illegals.
PKR in wilderness
His keen knowledge of both Umno and PKR has left him with the view that neither party should be left to plunder further the state coffers.
PKR, he said, is in the wilderness with no strong leadership since Jeffrey Kitingan quit the party in 2009. He was the party’s national vice-president and Sabah chief.
“PKR never recovered from Jeffrey. PKR has no charismatic leader in Sabah. Thamrin (Jaini) is a decent man but he’s has no vision. A few dynamic individuals joined PKR, then left.
“Who are they going to field? DAP is riding on Sarawak’s success and its strength in the Peninsula. It’s become too haughty.
“It doesn’t mean they will win here. Even in their Chinese seats, members are divided. PAS is here doing missionary work. They have no political appeal here.
“In my view, they are the most sensible party, realistic about their chances in Sabah, ” he said.
He predicted “embarrassing defeats” for PKR and “DAP will be lucky to keep its seats”.
Meanwhile, SAPP Youth chief Edward Dagul believes that the peninsula-based parties are driving away voters who had yet to decide between BN and the opposition.
“The ceaseless quarrels in Pakatan is driving away fence-sitters. The fact is in any election, fence- sitters are the most important group that determines the outcome.
“In Sabah, if all or most of the voters who voted BN in the last general election continue to vote BN, then there is no chance for the opposition in Sabah.
“And without Sabah and Sarawak, there is no chance for Pakatan to capture Putrajaya. This is the reality in Malaysian politics today,” he said.
War of egos
SAPP, meanwhile, is battling to muscle its way into political relevance in Sabah.
It is currently between Jeffrey’s fast growing STAR party and the Pakatan boys.
The party has tried brokering a deal with Pakatan but they sent him back with an embarrassing three-seat deal.
Now SAPP must settle with STAR and that has not been easy, according to senior SAPP leader who declined to be named.
“Actually there is no problem between Yong (Teck Lee) and Jeffrey. They are talking. SAPP is keen on parliament and some state seats. Jeffrey is adamant on all the KDM [Kadazandusun and Murut] seats plus some mixed areas. He’s told SAPP they can take the Muslim seats. STAR is not interested.
“But the problem is the people surrounding Jeffrey. The are always messing with his mind. One moment he and Yong reach an agreement. Then Jeffrey goes back and two days later he changes his mind. This is the situation,” said the leader.
To his credit, Jeffrey and his thrust to empower the mind and spirit of the Sabahans of their most basic rights is working.
His clarion call is the Borneo Agenda and Sabah for Sabahans and the fever is catching. His supporters are increasing by the day.
STAR going it alone or with SAPP, is poised to give the stubborn Pakatan boys a serious fight.
In this war of egos, Umno and BN need only to sit tight clutching their cash bags, to return as victors.