My first visit and first political programme in Sabah was 48 years ago on May 13, 1969 when I came over from Peninsular Malaysia to help in the campaigning of the independent parliamentary candidate in Kota Kinabalu, and I was to visit Sandakan and Tawau, but the infamous May 13 riots in 1969 broke out in Kuala Lumpur, and the rest is history.
In the past 54 years, Sabah has had 13 Chief Ministers (in contrast with six in Sarawak), but in the past half a century, Sabahans had not enjoyed the fruits of development which Sabahans and Sarawakians had been promised when the federation of Malaysia was formed from the Malaysia Agreement 1963 by Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore.
The Chief Commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad said in Putrajaya today that between August 2016 and August 2017, MACC seized assets worth RM334.53 million.
This gives an indication of the enormity and monstrosity of the corruption and abuses of power which had been rampant in Sabah in the past few decades when about half of the MACC seized assets in the past 12 months came from Sabah.
The Barisan National Federal Government is trying to use the Pan-Borneo Highway to get the votes of Sabah and Sarawak for the 14GE, but if there had been effective and good government in Sabah and Sarawak in the past half a century, instead of rampant corruption and abuses of power, Sabah and Sarawak on their own would have the resources, capability and financial capacity to have built the Pan-Borneo Highway.
But there is now an air and hope for major political change in Malaysia.
I was in Gelang Patch in Johore this morning, mid-day in Kajang in Selangor and now in Tawau – a hectic schedule for Pakatan Harapan leaders to bring about a political tsunami for Malaysia in the next general election.
There was a political tsunami in the 13th General Election in May 2013, but it was confined to the urban areas. It was not a Chinese political tsunami but a urban political tsunami of the Chinese, Indians, Malays, Kadazans and Ibans in the urban areas. But it was not enough to overcome the undemocratic features in the system to bring about a political change to elect a new Federal Government in Putrajaya.
We need not just a urban political tsunami, but a Malaysian political tsunami – a rural political tsunami to complement the urban political tsunami, where all Malaysians, whether Malays,Chinese, Indians, Kadazans and Ibans stand up to demand for political change throughout Malaysia and in all the territories and states of Malaysia.
I was with Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the Pakatan Harapan Chairman and other Pakatan Harapan leaders in Penang and Kuching the previous week; and in Selangor and Johor last Thursday and Friday.
We can sense that the people in Malaysia, whether in urban or rural areas, are on the move to demand fundamental changes in Malaysia in the next General Election.
We can sense this in the various states in Peninsular Malaysia, including states which had all along been regarded as the “fixed deposits” states of UMNO/Barisan National, like Johor and Malacca. We can sense this when Sarawak Pakatan Harapan was launched in Kuching the previous Sunday.
Can there be a united mission for change by all Opposition parties and forces in Sabah?
I want to make a proposal, not on behalf of Pakistan Harapan or even on behalf of DAP, but as a Malaysian political worker who had dedicated 52 years of my life to a better Malaysia for all Malaysians.
I call on all Opposition political parties in Sabah to unite on a common platform to topple the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, UMNO and Barisan National at both the federal and Sabah levels in the 14GE and not to allow any differences among them to deflect them from this common objective.
Lets put aside whatever differences there are among the Opposition parties and focus single-mindedly on effecting political change in Putrajaya and Sabah for it is not going to be an easy task to topple Najib, UMNO and BN in Malaysia and Sabah in the 14GE.
Let us put aside the artificial arguments about local parties and peninsular parties for where is the good faith and sincerity to regard DAP MPs Steven Wong and Jimmy Wong and DAP State Assemblyman Chan Foong Hin as if they are in any way less Sabahan than others when they championed Sabah rights and interests in Parliament and the Sabah State Assembly.
Let us realise that there is no way Sabah can be saved if we do not save Malaysia; in the same way, there is no way Malaysia can be saved if we do not save Sabah.
We should there Save Sabah to Save Malaysia; Save Malaysia to Save Sabah.
If we miss the opportunity to effect political change in Sabah and Malaysia in the 14GE, and Najib can continue as Prime Minister of Malaysia after the 14GE, it may be a long time before the people of Sabah and Malaysia can bring about change through the democratic process.