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Stop playing ‘tarik tali’ SAPP

 | May 13, 2012

Is SAPP indecisive over committing itself to UBA and joining Pakatan Rakyat because it hasn’t closed its door to Barisan Nasional?

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Recently Sabah Progressive Peoples Party’s (SAPP) deputy president, Eric Mojimbun accused State Reform Party’s (STAR) deputy chairman, Daniel John Jambun, of being “totally ignorant of SAPP’s sincerity in cooperating with all opposition parties to topple BN in the coming general election.”

So now the STAR vs SAPP argument has taken on a new depth.

At last SAPP has been forced to respond to the general perception among observers that the party has been playing the fine art of “political tarik tali” (pulling strings) and trying to catch whatever good fish that bites.

If one reads carefuly Majimbun’s words on the whole issue, one would notice how vague and ambivalent he is about SAPP’s real stance on the United Borneo Agenda.

Majimbun sarcastically said SAPP had never signed any form to join UBA. But he acknowledged that the party had supported the Borneo Agenda propagated by UBA “before this” because  UBA shared SAPP’s Eight Core Values.

Now what does this mean in real political terms? Does SAPP want to be part of UBA or not? Did SAPP acknowledge and support UBA “before this” but not anymore?

Or is Majimbun saying that SAPP supports only the idea of UBA’s Borneo Agenda and the idea of his party joining UBA is a different matter altogether?

SAPP doesn’t have to fill up a form to join UBA as much as it didn’t have to fill up a form to join Barisan Nasional.

What Majimbun really means, in the simplest expression, is probably that SAPP supports the idea of the Borneo Agenda but it doesn’t have to join UBA – a case akin to a “I love you but I can’t marry you” situation.

No commitment

Said Majimbun: “It is not that SAPP doesn’t want to work with STAR. In fact we have been co-operating with Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and PKR to work out a strategy to defeat the BN in the coming election.”

This is a good indication of Majimbun’s willingness and openness for co-operation.

However, the truth is SAPP has stopped negotiating with UBA and never came back with a decision as it promised.

Also, several matters are floating in limbo here.

Majimbun’s words are lacking in definitive commitment, and his words are a clever way of saying “Yes, but…”

It is a form of the fine art of political high-rope walking, saying something in the negative by using positive assurances, like what Mark Anthony said in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “It’s not that I love Caesar less, but I love Rome more.”

Instead of saying “It’s not that SAPP doesn’t want to work with STAR,” why not just say, “We definitely want to work with STAR”

The two expressions seem to mean the same thing but there are miles of differences in their levels of conviction and commitment.

Imagine a boy saying to a girl, “It’s not that I don’t love you…” – notice the two negatives, “not” and “don’t” in the same sentence, used to make a positive!

Immediately you would know the boy actually doesn’t love the girl, and that he is only trying to soften the impact of the rejection. This is exactly what SAPP is saying and doing.

SAPP’s strategy is ‘to float’

On the matter of Daniel’s letter to Yong Teck Lee in which Daniel asked point blank if SAPP was in or out of the UBA, Majimbun’s only comment was that he was disappointed.

He didn’t give a definite answer to the definite question.

Why didn’t he just say, “Of course we are in UBA!” or “No, we are not in UBA.”?

I guess making any definite black and white answer would be politically unprofitable to SAPP because any iron-clad commitment to any side would compromise its policy of constantly string pulling on many sides, back, front, left and right, and for all we know, up and down as well!

SAPP believes that its best strategy is to be in a political limbo, to be neither here nor there, to be in the grey area, to float in self-doubt.

In other words SAPP practices the art of limbo-ism, which is don’t join Pakatan Rakyat but  just work with it.

Similarly the SAPP sentiment now is don’t join the UBA – just blow hot and cold -and don’t join the BN – just leave observers to suspect that SAPP hasn’t closed its door to BN and has the remote possibility of (maybe) working with it when the situation warrants it.

This way SAPP stays ‘relevant’ in all the conceptual possibilities, which in sum is no relevance at all!

It appears that Jambun is then not as ignorant of SAPP’s sincerity as Majimbun claimed. The fact is Jambun knows SAPP’s insincerity too well.

Insincere responses from SAPP

Jambun attacked SAPP with a frontal rock-hard question – Is SAPP here or there?

When the response came from SAPP it was full of holes through which the insincerity was leaking out on all sides.

You see, truth has a bad habit of showing up at the most unfortunate moments!

What SAPP needs to do is to rethink its strategy if it is really hungry for relevance.

Its Eight Core Values, and its loud calls for justice, for the RCI, for Sabah rights, autonomy and so on must be backed up by real commitments to Sabah’s future.

SAPP must tell and show Sabahans how much it is willing to sacrifice for the future of the state, and the first of such sacrifices would be to merge its eight core values with UBA’s Seven-Point Borneo Agenda.

Such a commitment would forge a stronger political front for Sabah and Sabah rights.

Such an alliance in UBA would not antagonize Pakatan, but rather would force Pakatan to negotiate with UBA and thereby begin a new era in which a Peninsula coalition has to listen to a Borneo-based political alliance.

Yong, like Jeffrey, had lamented that we have missed “windows of opportunity” and yet he now appears to neglect this opportunity to forge a powerful alliance.

We all seem to suffer from our diehard habits.

Yong must go for broke

When golden opportunity knocks we start looking in the mirror and ask, “Mirror, mirror on the wall! If I join this group, will I become the chief minister?”

It is always self-interest first, it is always a situation of “what’s in it for me” and not “what’s in it for the rakyat”, or in this case, for Sabahans.

All those talks about the struggle for the rakyat too often pale in the face of hunger for power.

SAPP leaders may need to be reminded that Jeffrey said, on more than one occasion, and I quote:   “I don’t care who becomes the chief minister as long as the Borneo Agenda is achieved!

“Why should they worry about who becomes the chief minister?

“When are they going to understand that the important thing is the future of Sabah?”

Yong also needs to say the same thing and go for broke for the people of Sabah.  Anything less is loss!


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