By Clement Stanley
Sabah is synonymous with three things: Mount Kinabalu, the diving haven of Sipadan and political frogs. Of the three, the most intriguing must be the culture of party hopping, or frogging as it is called. The reward for scaling Mount Kinabalu or diving at Sipadan, at best, gives you personal satisfaction. But hopping from one political party to another after having won an election brings you untold wealth and, without doubt, instant millionaire status.
Reputations don’t matter in such circumstances. Neither does credibility. Frogs compromise on their principles and are prepared to forego their core party values or beliefs in their party’s vision and mission. All these fly out the window when they see the ringgit sign. Frogs try to justify their move by saying they are frogging in the interest of the rakyat. Nobody believes this. Not now. Not ever. Never.
The frogging culture in Sabah goes back to the days of the Usno regime when the late Tun Mustapha Harun reigned supreme. To become the government of the day, he had to have a majority and the best way was to lure the Upko elected representatives into Usno.
Since then, the frogging culture in Sabah has continued to flourish through the years under the governments of Berjaya, PBS and Barisan Nasional and now, most probably, Parti Warisan Sabah. Millions of ringgit have changed hands in the process. While for the frogs it is a windfall beyond their wildest dreams, for the rakyat who voted for such people, believing that the frogs would carry their concerns and voices to the state assembly, it remains nothing more then a pipe dream.
Simply put, the voters have been and continue to be cheated left, right and centre. They were and still are being made use of by the people in whom they had placed their trust and hopes. The sad thing is, some voters were known to walk for miles on end to exercise their democratic right, or cross treacherous rivers for their voices to be heard. But everything fell on deaf ears.
Unfortunately, frogging has now become synonymous with Sabah. As a Sabahan, I am truly ashamed. Sabah politicians are a pathetic, selfish bunch, lacking in credibility and integrity. They cannot see the wood from the trees and neither do they care about good moral values.
I pray that someday, we see the end of such practices. I pray that someday we see the end of such politicians. I refer not only to the receiver, but to the giver as well.
It is high time you took your roles seriously. It is high time you took your voters seriously. It is high time you became men of courage and integrity.
(The PBS government introduced the anti-hop law in 1986. It was however challenged in court by Tun Mustapha when he decided to cross from Usno to Umno, and the Federal Court decided in favour of Tun Mustapha by ruling that the law was ultra vires the Federal Constitution.)
Clement Stanley is an FMT reader.
The views expressed by the writer are not necessarily those of FMT.