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Mahathir’s sham Sabahan-for-PM proposal

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Is there any point in having a PM from Sabah if it just means someone from Sabah who presumably is following Mahathir’s interests and perhaps his own interests as well? Carol Yong writes.

The latest political sham of Dr Mahathir Mohamad in nominating the current Sabah chief minister as PM candidate is clear that he continues – or tries – to unilaterally decide the fate of the nation and of all Malaysians.

Many commenters have flooded online media and social media with their opinions about current political events and the bickering in the peninsula, which need no reiteration here.

“So tired of daily shows on the federal side,” an activist friend remarked in an e-chat several days ago, pointing out that no one was going beyond the surface on the Sabah and Sarawak side. 

That prompted me to reflect on how the coming political chapters of Malaysia will turn out. With the latest gimmick of a Sabah candidate as potential PM – a position that several other elite politicians are also vying for – is the ‘political game’ moving East?

Rhetorically, yes, but in essence, it is a shift that ignores the democratic values and empowerment of the people. It is directed by one deluded old man in Peninsular Malaysia, who had been PM twice; yet it appears no lessons were ever learned about the true meaning of the people’s mandate. I leave it to the politicians and political parties to either bicker on or act to stop such disgusting behaviour among themselves.

The people in Sabah civil society and NGOs have to realise they are much too good to have such dictates shoved down their throats. Sabah NGOs, along with the people or communities they have been working with, have to pressure their elected representatives, both federal MPs and state assembly members, on this issue.

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More precisely, the Sabah NGOs need to pressure Sabah DAP to change its mind about pushing the central DAP and East Malaysian political parties into accepting Mahathir’s proposal. In the words of a Sabahan: “DAP Sabah backs Mahathir, so also backs what crazy proposal Mahathir comes up with. Think the Rakyat dumb or what?”

What is the use of having a PM of somewhere, someone or some group that will neither be helping the people nor engaging with the actual realities or aspirations of the people in Sabah? Is there any point in having a PM from Sabah if it just means having someone from Sabah who presumably is following Mahathir’s interests and perhaps his own interests as well?

Our country needs a PM who is more genuine about the people’s interests – not someone who is ‘by coincidence’ from Sabah, who is favoured by Mahathir according to his whims, and who is an East Malaysian with Umno-Barisan Nasional DNA.

As it stands, Mahathir is seen to be such a ‘good guy’ in nominating a Sabahan for PM – a proposal so far openly backed by Sabah DAP and former NGO people from Sabah who are now MPs and state assembly members.

The question is whether these persons are genuine about the issues the Sabah NGOs have been struggling for. Or are they manipulating the Sabah public (the people who voted them in) for private interests and benefits that will accrue to power groups behind the whole thing?

Back to my e-chat mentioned above, my friend’s wisdom rings loud and clear:  “Don’t be caught by the trap of using an East Malaysian and that Sabah and Sarawak must then support. The struggle must now be on creating the third force, rebuilding NGO credibility and building a truly independent civil society.” 

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In various ways, concerned individuals and civil society have taken many small steps – but the big leap has yet to come. It is time now to start a new, meaningful chapter.

Carol Yong is a longstanding activist who worked many years first in Sabah and then Sarawak

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