Contesting in all 73 seats in the Sabah state polls, Parti Cinta Sabah is working hard to win the hearts and minds of voters.
ARE Sabahans in love with Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS)?
The Sabah-based political party, with the word “love” (cinta) in its name, is led by former foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman. The former Kimanis MP took over as its president on July 26.
PCS is the only party contesting in all 73 seats up for grab in the snap state polls. Universiti Teknologi Mara Sabah senior lecturer Mohd Rahezzal Shah said it showed that the party and its president wanted to be taken seriously.
“Anifah is a big name (in Sabah politics) who in the past years has been championing the rights of Sabah. If his party contested in only half of the seats, he is telling voters he is not serious about forming the government, ” said the political analyst.
“He wants to be taken seriously. He wants to tell the voters that if there’s a party that is going to give Warisan a run of its money, it is us.”
However, Mohd Rahezzal said the Sabah polls came two years too early for PCS. He said if it was dissolved later, PCS would have been the biggest threat to Warisan.
“PCS has no time to restructure (after Anifah took over as president) and to rebrand the party (which got zero seats in Sabah in GE14), ” he said.
On Saturday’s polling day, PCS – sandwiched between the caretaker state government Warisan Plus and the main opposition party Gabungan Rakyat Sabah – will find out how many Sabahans love it.
Universiti Teknologi Mara Sabah senior lecturer Tony Paridi Bagang reckoned that this Sabah polls give an equal chance to all contesting parties.
“This is a test for PCS and Anifah’s popularity. Looking at the sentiments on the ground and its fluidity, PCS could win several seats, ” said the political analyst.
Universiti Malaysia Sabah senior lecturer Dr Zaini Othman pointed out that PCS needed to work hard to make Sabahans love it.
“As for the first week campaign period, PCS really need to work round the clock and smartly read the ground if they really aim to become the third force in this election, ” said the political analyst.
“There are so many cards (parties) on the table, thus, you need to work hard for the audience to pick yours. It is as simple as that.”
How does Anifah rate the chance of PCS?
“At the rate, we are going almost every seat we have a reasonable chance. But we are handicapped. We are fighting against the state government and the federal government. If everything is equal, we can form the government, ” said the PCS president in an interview on Tuesday.
“But before polling, you know what they’re likely to do. The evening and morning before voting will determine whether we can win or not. If we don’t succeed, it is because of money politics.”
The PCS president is concerned about the security of the state and political stability. Without the two, he said foreign investors would not come to invest.
“I was a foreign minister for nine and a half years. I know many foreign ministers – some of them are now prime ministers. I am quite sure because of my close relationship with them; they will come to invest in Sabah, ” he said.
As a foreign minister who is a Sabahan, Anifah said two issues closest to him are Philippine’s claim to Sabah and the South China Sea.
Recently, he said that the Philippines wants to re-establish the claim to Sabah.
“I have been consistent with Malaysia’s position that we don’t recognise any claims, period. So when you don’t recognise any claims, there’s no reason why you should get down (with the Philippines) and discuss it. That would be tantamount to acknowledging the claim, ” he said.
Based on China’s Nine-Dash Line claim to the South China Sea, according to Anifah, almost 100% of Malaysia’s hydrocarbons lie under the disputed zone.
“Essentially it means (based on China’s Nine-Dash Line) all our natural resources belong to China, ” he said.
“Do you know that if China established the claim, we would have to get its permission to fly from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur because we are flying over the South China Sea?”
Through his stint as foreign minister, Anifah said Malaysia had continually engaged China on the importance of keeping the region stable. “It is the second busiest shipping trade between west and east. So, nobody is going to gain if there’s tension in the area. We can’t afford to have two superpowers having a ding dong right in front of our doorstep, ” he said.
As for Sabah polls, the PCS president said the top two issues among the voters – are the economy (which is related to basic infrastructure) and MA63 (Malaysia Agreement of 1963). Both problems are interconnected, he said.
“After (forming Malaysia in 1963) we still have no clean water or electricity in many parts of Sabah. Our child (Veveonah Mosibin) has to climb up a tree to get an Internet signal.
“We have the resources to build our basic infrastructure.
“The oil is all in front here, ” he said, pointing at the South China Sea in a hotel suite facing Pulau Gaya in Kota Kinabalu.
In gist, he argued that if the Federal Government gave what was owed to Sabah in terms of oil and gas royalty, the state could determine its economic destiny.
Anifah believes only an independent Sabah chief minister could get due respect from the Federal government. The state has never been independent because of Kuala Lumpur’s divide-and-rule game, he said.
“(Caretaker chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal) is still answerable to KL. If his partners from KL, PKR and DAP, pull out of his government, it would collapse. (Former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman) was also answerable to KL. I want to be answerable to the people of Sabah. That is why I want a genuine Sabah party to form the government, ” he said.
Anifah’s opponents, especially Parti Warisan Sabah led by Mohd Shafie, had run a personal campaign against PCS by saying that a vote for Anifah was a vote for Musa.
“How can we be the same? Of course, we are brothers; you can’t take away that from us. But politically, we are different. We have different priorities and different approaches, ” he said.
Anifah gave an example. Musa, he said, could not forcefully push for the restoration of rights of Sabahans under MA63.
“It was not that he was not in favour of it, but he was not forceful enough as he was a CM from Umno, he could not speak freely. He had to respect the party and its leadership, ” he said.
Whereas Anifah said as co-chair of the committee to restore the rights of the people of Sabah and Sarawak, under the Federal Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963, he fought hard for the Borneo states.
Will the “party of love” get enough cinta from Sabahans on polling day?
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