The price of broken promises

Warisan president Shafie Apdal holds the portfolios of both chief minister and finance minister despite PH’s pledge that this would not happen. (Bernama pic)

Broken promises and deception are a lethal combination. In personal relationships, it would be the beginning of the end. However, when used as a political tool in an election, the results could end up being a plus or a minus. It becomes a plus in the war for votes when people believe your lies and promises. It becomes a minus when people no longer believe in you and your promises. Barisan Nasional (BN) bears testimony to this, as seen in the results of GE14.

When GE13 was underway in 2013, BN promised Sabahans that it would build one million affordable homes for us. Only 27% of that target was achieved as stated by YB Stephen Wong in Parliament. This was a broken promise. Did that help BN win another term in Sabah from 2013-2018? Maybe. Would the same promise have worked in GE14? I doubt it.

BN also promised to build a new hospital in Penampang during GE13. To show that it meant business, a signboard was erected to that effect. Five years on, there is no sign of any hospital being built in Penampang. That signboard was deceptive. Did it work for BN then? Perhaps.

When Jeffery Kitingan called for an end to BN rule in Sabah in GE14, people in Keningau and Tambunan responded. The BN candidates were defeated. But within 48 hours, he decided to join Musa Aman and BN. That was deception, any way you look at it.

Wilfred Tangau, the president of Upko, and his merry men went the other way. They abandoned BN and threw their lot behind Shafie Adpal and Warisan, as did two Umno elected representatives. That too was deception, any way you look at it.

Warisan is now on the brink of both lethal combinations. On May 25, Christina Liew of PKR said on the front page of a local daily that PH had in its manifesto stated that whoever holds the chief minister post in Sabah will not hold the finance minister post as well. Shafie holds both posts. A petition with more than 20,000 signatures went viral.

On the same day and in the same local daily, Saifullah Hisham of Perwasa, an NGO that is seen as sympathetic to Warisan, declared that in the Warisan manifesto, there was nothing that said the chief minister cannot hold another portfolio.

Someone is not telling the truth, or there exist two different manifestos. That is deception. But it is not yet a broken promise. It will be, if Shafie does not give up the post of finance minister. For now, it remains a waiting game for Sabahans.

Gone are the days when the information ministry would come around in mobile trucks showing Johnny Weissmuller in Tarzan movies and distributing free Milo while spreading political propaganda.

People today are more on the ball, thanks to technological advances. Sure, you can still try deception and broken promises. However, it comes with a price. If not now… later.

Clement Stanley is an FMT reader.

The views expressed by the writer are not necessarily those of FMT.