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Orang Asal dismiss Shafie as Dr M’s proxy

 | September 27, 2016

They worry about a situation in which the more things appear to change, the more they remain the same.



Shafie Apdal’s announcement that he would be leading a multi-racial party has been met with a dismissive attitude from some members of the Orang Asal community. They see him only as a proxy of former PM Mahathir Mohamad.

Mahathir is reviled in Sabah for a myriad of reasons, and many believe that he would not dare show his face in the state. Others, however, are not so sure. One comment in a WhatsApp group said that “Mahathir would not hesitate to turn up in Sabah on behalf of Shafie.”

Those who agreed pointed out the former premier had recently called on Sabahans to support Shafie to get rid of Umno from their homeland.

Many Sabahans see Mahathir’s new party as no different from Umno, and they want Umno out of the state. And they worry about a situation in which the more things appear to change, the more they remain the same.

The typical politically aware Orang Asal is not convinced that Umno cares about Sabah and would cite as proof the 600,000 “dubious ICs” allegedly issued through the backdoor at Mahathir’s instructions. Then, there are the other 400,000 illegal immigrants in Sabah with no papers.

Shafie has said nothing about these issues. He keeps harping on getting rid of Umno from Sabah.

Another issue which Shafie avoids talking about is the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 (MA63), which the Federal Government has allegedly not complied with.

There are other reasons why Shafie lacks traction among the Orang Asal.

Shafie is a Bajau Laut. His uncle Sakaran Dandai, a Suluk, was briefly Chief Minister in 1994 and later became Governor.

He has long had his eyes on the Sabah Chief Minister’s post. While Sabahans in general have no issues with anyone being Chief Minister, they are rather uncomfortable with the thought that someone with Suluk connections may head the Sabah Government.

The bottomline, in any case, is that the Orang Asal want the recommendations in the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants implemented.

They want back the autonomy of Sabah as per MA63 and they want the Philippines claim dropped.

The Orang Asal and Shafie’s politics are like oil and water. If Shafie is bad news for the Orang Asal, Mahathir with whom he’s involved, is seen as a nightmare. They have not forgotten that the former PM brought Umno into Sabah in 1990, incarcerated longtime Borneo rights activist Jeffrey Kitingan and dismantled the PBS government in 1994.

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