Sunday, May 13, 2018

History and its Tendency to Repeat Itself

A few days before the General Elections 14 (GE14) a friend asked me for my predictions on the outcomes of the elections. I said Pakatan Harapan looked very promising in West Malaysia, but in Sabah, it seemed like Barisan Nasional was still very strong. However, if the Pakatan can win in Sabah too, it had to be by a big majority. If it's a marginal win, then complications would entail.

Sabah has always been famous with its politicians that can switch parties in a heartbeat. If the results of the elections are very marginal, we are bound to see a lot of activities among the politicians—they will be very active, hopping from one party to another; or at the very least, switching alliance from one to another under the disguise of "Gabungan".

That was actually what happened in the recently-concluded GE14, of which Barisan Nasional secured 29 seats; Warisan and its alliance secured 29 seats; and STAR took the remaining 2 seats. Living up to his reputation, the leader of STAR wasted no time to join forces—he called it "Gabungan"—with Barisan Nasional to form the new state government. So Musa Aman was sworn in as the Chief Minister, and Jeffrey Kitingan (from STAR) of course became his deputy. To be honest, I'm surprised that Jeffrey did not demand to be the Chief Minister himself. Well, maybe he did, I don't know. After all, he has always had the curious obsession of wanting so much to be the Chief Minister.

Less than 24 hours later, however, some of the elected representatives from Barisan Nasional decided to switch to Pakatan, thus resulting in the new government losing its simple majority. Well, to make the long story short, Musa refused to resign as Chief Minister. But Shafie Apdal, representing the Pakatan, went on to be sworn in as the Chief Minister anyway. So Sabah now has two Chief Ministers.

Browsing through the comments on facebook, I can see that many Sabahans are comparing the present situation in Sabah with that of Perak in West Malaysia in 2008. Some are also comparing with a similar situation in Sabah in 1994 when Pairin Kitingan resigned as the Chief Minister of Sabah when his Parti Bersatu Sabah lost the support of the majority of elected representatives.

However, as you can probably see, what we have right now between Musa and Shafie is not the same as that in 1994. Far from resigning his post as the Chief Minister, Musa Aman is fighting on. Actually, this thing about having two Chief Ministers has happened before in Sabah. But I suspect many of those on facebook were either too young to remember, or have not even been born yet when it happened.

Over three decades ago, in 1985, Tun Mustapha, through the coalition of USNO and Berjaya, obtained 22 of the 48 seats contested. Clearly having the minority, but he sneaked in to the Istana in the wee hours of the morning to be sworn in as the Chief Minister of Sabah. This was later challenged by Pairin Kitingan because his Parti Bersatu Sabah won 26 seats, which was then the majority. What ensued was a long legal battle and chaos, culminating to bombings in the cities of Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau by the losing party (yes, we have bad losers in Sabah) and demonstrations in 1986, eventually leading to the declaration of curfews. 

Amazing how ugly it can get when people are obsessed with power and money. Pairin eventually won and went on to become the Chief Minister of Sabah. If any of you are interested to read more about the legal aspect of this, click here. It is a very long article, but it's good for the young Sabahans to know the history of Sabah!

Truly, history has a strange habit of repeating itself. For the second time, we now have two Chief Ministers in Sabah again. I'm confident, however, that we are more civilized today, and won't end up with chaos and unrest like what we had in 1985-1986.


1 comment:

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