Tambunan spirit? — Lim Sue Goan
UPDATED @ 08:43:15 AM 02-08-2012
AUG 1 — BN leaders said that the resignations of Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin and Datuk Seri Wilfred Bumburing do not affect the people’s support for Sabah BN or bring about a crisis.
In fact, whether a storm would be triggered by the resignation depends on the reaction of the Bumiputeras, particularly non-Muslim Bumipeteras.
There are Muslim Bumiputeras, non-Muslim Bumiputeras and Chinese in Sabah.
If Umno is still in control of Muslim votes, together with the non-Muslim votes in the hands of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO), Sabah will remain a BN stronghold. However, if non-Muslim Bumiputeras are affected by the strong wind of change, together with the loss of Chinese votes, BN could then lose a number of seats in Sabah.
Wilfred is a Kadazan-Dusun leader, while Lajim is a leader of the Bisaya. The Kadazan-Dusun are the largest native group in Sabah while the Bisaya are a minority. However, Lajim’s Muslim religious background is helpful in garnering Muslim votes.
Whether Pakatan Rakyat leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim can set off a hurricane of change in Sabah after having Wilfred and Lajim to help with gaining the votes of Muslim Bumiputeras and non-Muslim Bumiputeras depends on the ability of the two leaders. Based on the mobilisation on July 29, Lajim seems to be a little better than Wilfred.
If we look at history, a wind of changed had actually been set off among non-Muslim Bumiputeras.
In 1984, when the Parti Berjaya ruled Sabah, the people were dissatisfied with the leadership style of the then state Chief Minister Datuk Harris Salleh. In December that same year, Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan was forced to leave the party. He later contested in the Tambunan by-election. Tambunan is a Kadazan-majority constituency and Pairin was able to defeat Harris’ handpicked candidate by an overwhelming majority.
Harris was angry and retaliated against Tambunan voters As a result, the people were extremely dissatisfied with him. In the 1985 Sabah state election, Pairin led his newly formed Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and won the state power as a dark horse. The PBS ascribed the victory to the “Tambunan spirit”.
However, a strategic mistake later cost the PBS the state regime. On the eve of the 1990 general election, The PBS withdrew from the BN coalition. In 1991, Umno entered Sabah and in 1994, PBS state lawmakers joined BN and resulted in the fall of the PBS state government.
Leaders who had involved in seizing the state power from the PBS included the then Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee. He formed the Parti Maju Sabah (SAPP) the next day after withdrawing from the party.
After the withdrawal of Yong, another two high-level leaders of the PBS, namely Tan Sri Bernard Dompok and Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, followed suit. Another leader who was stabbed in the back was Lajim.
The greatest irony is the then deputy prime minister Anwar was the one who negotiated with them behind the scenes. Today, Anwar once again made these former PBS leaders betray Umno.
Sabah history is filled with party hopping and incidents of betrayal. Could these leaders revive the Tambunan spirit? Will Bumiputeras still believe them?
However, there are indeed many issues in Sabah for the alternative coalition to play up, including illegal immigrants and native customary land. Sabah is also the country’s poorest state with a poverty rate of 19.7 per cent. If the people’s sentiment is ignited, Sabah might then no longer be a fixed deposit state for BN.
Politics is a blatant exchange of interests, particularly in the politics of Sabah. — My Sinchew
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.