What surprises lie in store after Sabahans vote?

No state in Malaysia provides more excitement, awe and surprise in abundance at elections than Sabah.

Sabahans will see a mixed bag at every state election, from the obscure man on the street throwing his hat into the ring, no matter how tatty, to the ageing seasoned politician still selling his brand of politics, outdated or otherwise,

Nothing however beats the night when votes are counted, when the David v Goliath battle is over and the victor is crowned.

It does not matter to Sabahans who the federal government supports. Sabahans are not bothered by rhetoric or threats. They just vote the way they want while enjoying the handouts from various political parties even if it means shouting out “sokong” at five different ceramahs organised by five different parties.

In the 1976 elections, nobody thought Parti Berjaya would overcome the Usno government led by the late Mustapha Harun, especially since Usno was a Barisan Nasional component. After all, Parti Berjaya was a mere baby that put up candidates most people never even heard of, let alone pronounce their names.

Nine years later, the mighty Parti Berjaya was to fall to Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) despite being a member of the BN government led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who declared that he would sink or swim with Berjaya. He sank.

Nine years later, it was the turn of PBS to fall when some “frogs” hopped over to the BN after PBS had a two-seat majority.

Not until 2018 were Sabahans to opt for another new government. Although BN were declared the winner by two seats, the coalition lost their grip on power with the help of some “frogs” who switched to the Warisan side.

As the number of “frogs” eventually increased, Warisan sat comfortably with an overwhelming majority unfazed by talk of a possible coup. Perhaps they were just resting on their laurels thinking they were in a comfort zone.

In less than 60 days however, Sabahans will go to the polls again.

Only a brave person will predict a winner. Everybody knows who will lead Warisan into battle. Nobody as yet knows who will lead the opposite side. Anything can happen between now and then.

Even when the polling begins and the votes are being tallied, you will still not know what  lies ahead. The dynamics could change overnight. That is the magic of the Sabah state elections.

Someone who you believe will stay loyal to you could well be a tadpole in disguise just waiting for that moment to turn into a full sized “frog”. There will be promises made. There will be slogans created. Songs will be sung regardless of whether it is flat and out of tune. It won’t matter because at the end of the day the temptation to croak far outweighs one’s singing ability.

That is when Sabahans will look around and ask each other: who let that frog out?


Clement Stanley is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.