Even as BN flogs its 'aid for votes' strategy in rural Sabah, indications are that the villagers can no longer be bullied
This time the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko), of which Federal Minister Bernard Dompok is president, has been roundly criticised for attempting to browbeat village folks into supporting the party and the BN or risk losing government assistance.
Upko’s state assemblyman for Paginatan, Dr Ewon Ebin, allegedly threatened villagers in remote Kg Wakaku that he would not be able to help them if they continued to support the opposition.
“Honestly, I cannot assist those who support the opposition because I hold true to the BN government concept which is different from the opposition party’s concept,” he reportedly said.
Taking him to task, State Reform Party (Star) division head for Ranau, Jalibin Paidi, said Ebin was being “arrogant, paranoid” and was showing “desperation” over a perceived loss of support.
“I am shocked to read Dr Ewon’s (Ebin) statement that he would not assist those who support opposition parties because it was not a BN policy to do so,” he said.
Describing Ebin’s methods as “outdated”, Paidi said the threat was all the more reprehensible as it came from a Rural Development Minister responsible for the lives of those in rural areas.
“His words could be taken as a threat against the rakyat as a whole as he knows that no matter which party the people support, they still are all citizens of Sabah and Malaysia and therefore entitled to assistance from the government.
“What the Upko vice president promoted in his speech was sheer arrogance of power and signals his paranoia of a shifting allegiance of the disenfranchised Sabahans including Dusuns in Paginatan and Ranau.
“Isn’t it a practice of a civilised democracy to allow citizens freedom of expression or association with any legitimate party they believed in its struggle?” he asked.
‘Taking people’s support for granted’
On Ebin’s contention that only BN can bring development and assistance, Paidi said it was a false perception as anybody could work to bring development, adding that it is the duty of a government that is entrusted to manage the people’s money to bring development and give assistance to all citizens.
“Ewon (Ebin) not only failed to see the beauty of democracy but refused to acknowledge that it is because of the growing strength of dissent and opposition in Sabah, that the federal government tends to listen and give more attention and development to Sabah.
“If not because of the opposition strength, BN leaders like Ewon (Ebin) would just take the people’s support for granted,” he said.
He reminded Ewon (Ebin) that when he himself was once in the opposition with Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and as such should not simply echo what his master, Umno, was telling him to say now.
“The people are wise and will not be threatened with such arrogant words. They are leaving BN because BN has been a bad government here and in fact in the whole country,” Paidi added.