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Sabah trapped in divide-and-rule politics

The new 'Borneo Agenda' alliance, born of Jeffrey Kitingan,
has consigned the one party for all concept to the
dustbins of Sabah.

KOTA KINABALU: The entry of the Sarawak Reform Party (STAR) into Sabah through the membership of maverick politician Jeffrey Kitingan and his allies has opened the door to yet another multi-racial coalition in Sabah.

On the heels of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and the opposition Pakatan Rakyat, STAR’s link up with Jeffrey’s United Borneo Front (UBF) along with the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), Usno and the Sabah People Front (SPF) may be seen as the new-coalition-kid-on-the-block battling for the hearts and minds of Sabahans.

It’s an indication of how politics in this state is shaping up after decades of apparent social unity that was shown through competition within single, multi-racial parties such as Usno, Berjaya and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).

All this went out the window in 1994 with the overthrow of PBS by the Umno-led BN coalition which has ruled ever since.

The new ‘Borneo Agenda’ alliance parties of STAR-UBF, SAPP, Usno and perhaps SPF, points to the fact that the old idea of one party fitting all has been consigned to the dustbin of history in Sabah.

But does this also mean that the various communities in the state no longer trust each other or is it for political expediency?

All four of the new alliance are in fact multi-racial parties like Pakatan Rakyat and indeed many in the BN, with the exception of Umno, MCA, MIC and Upko.

If last Friday’s roll out of the new Borneo opposition alliance is a sign of the times ahead of the 13th general election expected to call anytime now, STAR-UBF will be gunning for the Sabah native (KDM) votes leaving the rest of the pie to SAPP (Chinese), Usno and SPF (Muslim-Bumiputra).

SAPP deputy president Amdee Sidik who is proud of his party’s multi-racial roots, showed some concern of the anomaly and stressed political unity over and above race and religion.

Commenting on his speech during UBF’s first anniversary gathering attended by several hundred people on Dec 16 he said: “SAPP’s struggle is for all Sabahans and the state of Sabah. We’re not partitioned based on race and religion.

“I’m not going backward … the way forward for Sabah in particular and Malaysia in general is to get out of the communal outlook. We can’t afford to turn the clock back.

“I believe time has come that our state and country must be looked after by able leaders not because of his race and tribe. Gone is the old school (of race-based politics),” he said.

Usno’s return

Meanwhile, an observer who called himself Ahmad Ali said the thinking behind the new coalition was obviously an attempt to unite a diverse group of people who would not necessarily support a single party.

He sees the re-appearance of Usno, led by its pro-tem president Baharudin Datu Mustapha as adding spice to political activities in the state given that Usno was always jealous of surrendering any of the state’s rights.

Baharudin, who was also present at the function said that his group wants to hammer out a pact with Jeffrey’s UBF and also hopes that the Register of Society will approve the registration of Usno soon.

As for SPF, the other newly arrived party, headed by Bahaman Anggap and which is said to be on the verge of bagging Lajim Ukin, the Federal Deputy Minister of Industry, they are also there to look after the Muslim bumiputera.

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