Thursday, October 30, 2003

Musa Aman Must Make A Turn

Datuk Musa Aman became the latest Chief Minister of Sabah in March 2003 after Datuk Chong Kah Kiat’s term expired. He is filling in the Muslim Bumiputera quota in the rotation system for Sabah Chief Ministership.

Sabah politics has been very different from the rest of states in Malaysia. It is also not similar to its neighbouring state of Sarawak. The first party to rule the state after Sabah joined Malaysia was USNO which was lead by the late Tun Datu Mustapha. USNo stayed in power for 9 years before falling to BERJAYA which was lead by Datuk Harris Salleh.

Datuk Harris was too powerful at one time and arrogant offended many people. One of them was Datuk Pairin Kitinggan. He quit BERJAYA and contested as a independent candidates and defeated Datuk Harris’ man. Out of anger, Datuk Harris withdrew the district status of Tambunan which was represented by Datuk Pairin.

His action angered the locals especially the Kadazans. An election was called in 1985 and saw the downfall of Datuk Harris. He himself was defeated by a nobody in politics, Datuk Kadoh Agundong. Even though there were series of by elections and general state elections due to party hopping and camp switching but eventually PBS (Parti Bersatu Sabah) formed the first Kadazan-Dusun lead government. BERJAYA fell after 9 years. Datuk Harris tried many times to make a political come back but failed.

PBS’s under Datuk Pairin went through many stages of challenges due to the sour relationship with Kuala Lumpur. Datuk Pairin tried to improve the tie by joining the BN but was accused of back stabbing when they pulled out of the coalition after the nomination day. Thus made the PBS the biggest political enemies of BN. Political frogs culture started and almost all the politicians then were at one time or another has switched party at least once. Top of them all was Datuk Pairin’s own brother Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitinggan. He has been in PBS, PBRS, AKAR, back in PBS and out to PBRS. He tried to join UMNO but was rejected. He might make more jumps later on.

PBS eventually fell after the magical number of 9 years due to big desertion of its state assemblymen and strong ‘fishing’ of political frogs from BN (Barisan Nasional) or to be exact UMNO. The UMNO fishermen was lead by Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim with the helped of Dato’ Kadir Sheik Fadzir and Dato’ Ibrahim Ali.

When BN ruled back Sabah with the support of political frogs, the Prime Minister suggested a rotation system for the post of Chief Minister. His intention was to have all the races especially the Muslim bumiputera, Non-Muslim bumiputera and the Chinese to have a equal chance to lead the state. Each CM would lead the government for two years. It was seems the best solution at that time.

Tun Sakaran Dandai was the first to be sworn in as the Chief Minster but he did not finish his term as he was made the state governor. Datuk Salleh Said Keruak then took over for a term of two years. The chair was a little too comfortable for Salleh. He refused to go when his time was out. He created many issues and wanted to call off the rotation system. He even had a group of supporters shaven bald to protest.

With strong pressure from Kuala Lumpur, Datuk Salleh reluctantly pass the chief ministership to Datuk Yong Teck Lee, the President of SAPP (Sabah Progressive Party). Yong’s road to Chief Minister’s chair was not actually smooth. Even though SAPP which was formed from former Chinese leaders of PBS helped to BN to win the election, Yong was entangled in a court case involving illegal demonstration. After some terms were fulfilled quietly, the charges were dropped.

Since Yong is a Chinese, there was no fuss about abolishing the rotation of Chief Minister. During Yong’s time, the power of Chief Minister was trimmed. Yong then peacefully handed his responsibilities to Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

Bernard Dompok was unlucky as he did not manage to complete his two year term. He lost in the state election he lead. Reluctant but no choice, Bernard has to leave and the CM post was taken over by Datuk Osu Sukam.

When Osu took over, the issue of abolishing the rotation system was blown up again. He even ganged up a group politicians to stop his successor, Datuk Chong Kah Kiat from taking over. His reason was that Datuk Chong, President of Liberal Democratic Party was only a minority leader. LDP only has two state representatives in the state. The other one being Datuk Wong Lien Tat from Sandakan. UMNO which has the majority number of representatives should, according to Osu, be given the chance to continue leading the state.

Of course Datuk Osu’s plan was not successful and because of his action he was frozen politically. His political future considered finished unless some miracle would happen.

Datuk Chong Kah Kiat gave a very impressive starting by announcing his plans to wipe off the three sins of Sabah namely timber thief, fish bombing and illegal immigrants. However, besides Ops Nyiah II which sent back thousands of Filipinos and Indonesians who entered the state illegally, the other two sins remain. Chong also got into a lot of trouble because of Kota Kinabalu car park and the re-appointment of mayor. He is currently badly hit by poison pen letters, purportedly distributed by SAPP.

Chong, like Yong, also handed over his duties to Datuk Musa Aman. According to the initial rotation system, Chong was supposed to be succeeded by a non-Muslim bumiputera. However, the system was altered to allow an UMNO to be the Chief Minister after every term of non-Muslim bumiputera or Chinese. The alteration was made mainly due to the call for abolishing of the system.

Before Datuk Musa even warm his chair, there were already cals for the rotation to be abolished. This is of course over politicking created by his followers and those seeking favours. Due to these strong politicking on the issues of rotations, the previous Chief Ministers failed to concentrate on their core business of administer the state. The have always been dragged or willingly get involved in the controversial.

Therefore, if Datuk Musa is sincere in wanting to bring about better future for Sabah, he must never get involved in this issue. He must instead pay his full attention in developing the state and rebuild the economy of Sabah, which he is there for.

Let the people of Sabah judge for themselves on Musa’s performance. Politicians who have run out of issues to apple polishing the CM must be stopped and ignored. They only fooling themselves by bringing up the issues. Everyone is aware of their true colours and intentions.

If Datuk Musa wants a change, he should make a turn from the old tradition. He would then lead well and would be respected as a real leader.

Let the people judge and let the people see if Musa should stay or go. Let us decide if the rotation should stay or go when the time comes. Let us also see who the frogs are and who the fools are.

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