KOTA KINABALU: It’s perhaps in their DNA. Whatever the factor, families in politics have always captured public imagination.
With the general election on May 9 being the topic of coffeeshop talk everywhere, the names of famous families are on people’s lips these days.
There is Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, whose father was the country’s second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak.
There is also Najib’s cousin, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who is the son of Malaysia’s third Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn.
On the other side of the fence is Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his son Datuk Seri Mukhriz.
Then, there is Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and their daughter Nurul Izzah.
Over in DAP, there are the Lims – Kit Siang and Guan Eng – as well as the sons of the late Karpal Singh –Jagdeep, Gobind, Ramkarpal and Jagdeep – and their sister Sangeet who may be making her debut this polls.
Such political families exist everywhere else in the world. Think the Bushes of the United States, the Gandhis in India and the Aquinos of the Philippines. And nearer to home, the Lees from Singapore.
“Political families are quite common in Malaysia,” said political analyst Dr Arnold Puyok.
In some countries, he said it was accepted by society as a norm.
Dr Puyok believed that it had nothing to do with DNA but more a case of social orientation.
Some politicians would push their families into politics, hoping they would continue their legacy, he said.
“Some of them have been in the community for some time and have built a name for themselves.
“They would like to see it continue through their next of kin,” said Dr Puyok.
Another analyst, Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, noted that nepotism should not be allowed as “an entry point for any Tom, Dick and Jerry to ensure succession plans.”
In Sabah, no politics can be discussed without the Aman name emerging in the conversations –Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman and his equally famous brother, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.
And in Semporna is Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and his cousins, who are the sons of his uncle, Umno’s very first Chief Minister Tun Sakaran Dandai.
There is also the household name of the Kitingans – Parti Bersatu Sabah president Tan Sri Joseph who will likely square off against his politically estranged younger brother, Datuk Dr Jeffrey of Sabah STAR – for the Tambunan state and Keningau parliamentary seats.
Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah president Tan Sri Joseph Kurup may see his party deputy and eldest son Arthur, 35, taking over his Pensiangan parliamentary seat or the Sook state seat, currently held by Datuk Ellron Alfred Angian.
Also in the fray is Ceasar Mandela Malakun, the 27-year-old son of prominent Kadazandusun politician Datuk Clarence Bongkos Malakun, who defeated the then Barisan Chief Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok in the 1999 state election. Mandela, as he is popularly known as, is likely to take on Warisan’s Darell Leiking, also the son of popular assemblyman Marcel Leiking from the 1970s.
Darell, who was running on a PKR ticket, defeated Dompok in the Penampang parliamentary seat in the 2013 general election.