POLITICS: Cometh (the) Man of the hour

  • IN 500 WORDS
  • Thursday, 20 Aug 2020

Tomorrow, the Kota Kinabalu High Court will rule on the "pai ulung" argument that it should hear a case to reverse the Sabah head of state’s decision to dissolve the state assembly.

Former Sabah chief minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee used a Hakka card game term – "pai" (arrange) "ulung" (upside down/silly) – to describe the legality of the dissolution.

Barring any legal tangle, it is game on for the snap polls slated for Sept 26.

What’s at stake is the post of the chief minister to lead Sabah, one of the poorest states in Malaysia, a job made more daunting during the economically challenging Covid-19 pandemic.

Sabah’s alphabet soup of political parties can be confusing for most non-Sabahans. Here’s an idiot’s guide:

The state government is Warisan Plus, comprising Parti Warisan Sabah, DAP, PKR and Upko (United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation).

The main opposition bloc is parties aligned with the Perikatan Nasional government – Umno, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, PBS (Parti Bersatu Sabah), PBRS (Parti Bersatu Sabah), Sabah STAR and MCA.

The most viable and realistic third force is PCS (Parti Cinta Sabah).

There are mosquito parties, too, such as Parti Anak Negeri, Usno, LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) and PGRS (Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah).

Which coalition or party has the edge 24 days before Nomination Day on Sept 12?

Based on chief minister candidate, it’s Warisan Plus. Its resolute pick is Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, the Warisan president.

A huge question mark hovers over who Perikatan Nasional/Barisan Nasional will pick.

Will it be Tan Sri Musa Aman of Umno? Sabah Umno chief Datuk Bung Moktar Radin? Sabah Bersatu chief Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor?

Or dark horse candidates such as STAR president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and Sabah Bersatu deputy chief Datuk Masidi Manjun?

Neutrals would prefer ABMASA (anything but Musa Aman Shafie Apdal). They feel that the toxic rivalry between the two warlords has crippled the state since GE14.

For Warisan Plus, the refreshing chief minister candidate is Warisan deputy president Datuk Darell Leiking.

It will be a game-changer in the Kadazandusun Murut seats, where many voters are suspicious of Warisan, which debatably, is perceived as pro-illegal immigrant.

But Leiking, a Kadazandusun, might be an unpopular choice in his party’s core Bajau/Suluk seats.

“Shafie can focus on becoming PM and Darell can be CM, ” a Warisan voter from Moyog enthused.

If Musa, who led Sabah for 15 years, wants to make a comeback as CM, the BN/PN coalition will be in defensive mode because he has political baggage.

He was one of the contentious issues, including GST (Goods and Services tax) and 1MDB, during the Sabah polls in GE14.

Bung Moktar, the Duterte of Sabah politics, is a controversial choice.

The think-outside-the-box CM is Musa’s brother Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, who became PCS president three weeks ago.

The former Foreign Minister has injected resources and excitement in PCS, which won zero seats in GE14.

To misquote a Malay proverb, when elephant (Warisan Plus) fights elephant (BN/PN), the deer (Anifah) might become CM.

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