I do not know Hajiji Mohd Noor or Bung Moktar Radin personally.
Even though I don’t, I think I (and most of us, too) know that Hajiji and Bung have one thing in common – to be the chief minister of Sabah, desperately.
Can’t blame them though. Who doesn’t want to be the most powerful man in Sabah if you are a politician?
After emerging victorious in a hard-fought battle, we would surely eye the coveted prize, too, if it is within our reach. Never mind whether we are suitable or qualified to hold the post or not.
We can walk hand in hand into battle, but after victory, we will fight like sworn enemies to lift the top prize. Wasn’t the Hajiji-Bung scramble to be CM a familiar tale about conniving, dirty and treacherous politics we have witnessed all too often?
It’s all about “I am better and more qualified than you” when it comes to the crunch. Who cares about unity, solidarity, ideals, promises and all the sound bites going into battle earlier?
For the first time in a long while, it took the Sabah governor more than 48 hours to decide who should be the CM.
Governor Juhar Mahiruddin (above) rightly said he needed more time to make the right call, especially when he was aware that PN and BN, Bersatu’s Hajiji and Umno’s Bung, were locked in a tussle for the CM’s post.
Only on the third day after the state election (this is unprecedented) was the governor satisfied that the PN/BN coalition had finally reached a consensus and put forward a single name to be the chief minister.
This is a case of choosing a more “cultured” personality in Hajiji over an extreme extrovert and the ever “colourful” Bung.
The adjective, colourful, is also complimentary, like when you pay tribute in this manner: “He was a colourful and flamboyant politician who often did not pay much heed to demands of political correctness in his interactions and that earned him great respect among his voters.”
In Bung’s case, “colourful” denotes the opposite of “cultured” which we see in Hajiji.
You just have to google “Bung’s misdemeanours in Parliament” and two videos, one of July 2008 and the other of August 2018, will pop up.
Bung’s ‘colourful’ behaviour in Parliament
Bung was overly “colourful” in the august House on these two occasions. He must have looked back at his uncouth words and hand gestures with regret.
If Bung does not, then he is not even fit to be deputy chief minister, let alone helm the Sabah government.
In my article here on Sept 19, I ended with these lines: “And Bung as a potential Sabah chief minister? That has to be the biggest joke to emerge from this election.”
It turns out that my “biggest joke” is now only a deputy. Should I say “Thank God, he’s only Number 2, not Number One”?
I think DAP Teluk Intan MP Nga Kor Ming would agree with me. On Sept 25, the eve of the Sabah election, Nga urged Sabahans to vote for Warisan Plus to prevent Bung and former chief minister Musa Aman from becoming their chief minister and governor respectively.
“The elders would say if we talk about our nightmare, it would not become a reality. Yesterday, I had a nightmare that BN won the Sabah polls and Bung is the new chief minister.
“If this indeed happens, how can Sabahans hold their head high? Where is their dignity?” Nga told a ceramah in Kota Kinabalu.
On that same day, the Daily Express of Sabah published an article titled “I’m no gangster, says Bung”, in which the Sabah Umno chief refuted claims that he is a gangster and goes around swearing.
“It is not true. I have never been a gangster on the road… I have never obstructed anyone,” he said, responding to caretaker Chief Minister Shafie Apdal’s statement.
What I can conclude is this: If Bung has not been overly ‘colourful’, I doubt anyone, least of all Shafie Apdal, would ever describe him as a gangster.
Meanwhile, I have read many reports in the media since Hajiji was sworn in as the chief minister.
It seems that Sabah’s new CM is a politician who treads on the side of caution in all his years in politics. Hajiji is a “careful” politician, someone who would only take calculated risks and would not rock the boat.
As a former civil servant (an RTM announcer was also one of his positions), Hajiji should know that what is expected of one serving in government on both ends – the decision-makers and the implementers down the line.
Displaying his humble side, the new CM also revealed that he had never aspired to be a politician but was content as a government officer.
Hajiji’s charisma, leadership, people-friendly personality and commitment in discharging his duties as an elected representative in Sulaman continued to win the constituents’ hearts when he garnered 5,919 votes in a three-cornered fight.
I do not see an easy ride ahead for Hajiji, not when he has a personality like Bung breathing down his neck.
Already on his first day as CM, Hajiji had to avert a crisis when Bung demanded the Works portfolio over the state Ministry of Local Government & Housing that was first assigned to him.
Hajiji gave way to his deputy’s first demand. I think we can expect more to come from Bung and Sabah Umno.
I don’t see the Bersatu/Umno alliance in Sabah going long haul.
In this case, “cultured” and “colourful” just don’t mix.