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Wednesday, April 24, 2013
SABAH: Anwar's Big Blunder
HAS ANWAR BLUNDERED IN SABAH, AGAIN? By Raymond B Tombung, Borneo Post, 21 April 2013
It has become glaringly obvious that the PKR supremo, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, has mishandled Sabah, not once but a few times. It's no secret that he had seen Sabah as a critical source of parliamentary seats to ensure the Pakatan Rakyat's takeover of Putrajaya. He had stated the importance of Sabah not in mere words but in the oft-repeated and now famous PKR campaign jingle: "Tanya sama Najib, apa sebab goyang? Nanji jawab Najib, Sabah nak hilang!" Ironically, we maybe at a point where the song can be sung by Datuk Seri Najib Razak, "Tanya sama Anwar..." for the reason that the hope for the PR's capture of Sabah may now have been ruined, all due to Anwar's blunders in dealing with the opposition parties and his own party compatriots in the Sabah. First there was the monumental loss of Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan's massive influence following Jeffrey's departure and the exodus of KDM leaders from PKR as a consequences of back-stabbings in Sabah PKR which Anwar failed to control or rectify in time. There was also the factor of Anwar's own reluctance to accept Jeffrey's rise in influence within PKR Sabah, being loathe to seeing Christian Jeffrey ever becoming PKR Sabah chief despite the latter's support from a majority of the division chiefs. It was an unforgettable loss with lasting sting which hurts until today when PKR Sabah still suffers from its inability to have a from grasp on KDM areas. He tried to compensate this loss through Datuk Wilfred Bumburing's affiliation but the losses from Jeffrey's exodus was to massive to recoup.
Anwar's belief at one time that no Sabah PKR leaders were qualified to lead the party at the state level was testing the limits of Hj. Ansari Abdullah's and Thamrin Jaini's respectful tolerance. The belief that Azmin Ali and later Datuk Seri Azizah Ismail were better able to lead Sabah PKR -- on a remote-control mode -- was a direct insult on the intelligence and dignity of Sabah PKR leaders. This leadership presumptuousness and condescendence did more damage than repair to the local leadership uncertainty that then troubled the party in Sabah. It marked an unprecedented 'irregularity' that lowered the party's esteem within the political milieu. The unprecedented leadership arrangement, never before practised by any Peninsular parties, stamped a mark of incompetence on the faces of the local PKR leaders.
Then a worse blunder was made with the parachute appointment of a greenhorn, Uztaz Pajuddin Nordin, as state liaison chief. The 'rationale' from Azizah then was that it was to pick a compromise leader to mollify the war going on between Ansari and Thamrin, each having a group threatening to leave the party if the other were to become the state chief. So the solution was to appoint a too-young leader without wherewithal nor teeth to control the other leaders. The best option was to go for an extraordinary general election, but this idea wasn't even broached, perhaps due to the reluctance to go through the hassle and to spend money on the exercise. The embarrassingly comical backlash came soon after. Under pressure of being ousted or replaced, Pajuddin sold himself to Umno, making it to the front page of a daily paper for the wrong reason. (Pajuddin has come full circle and is back as vice chairman of now rebellious Tuaran division).
Anwar also failed miserably in handling the series of negotiations with local opposition parties, STAR and SAPP, which both accused him of playing the superior instructor's, rather than the equal-standing negotiator, role. This monumental failure arising from the PKR's superior Malayan attitude had resulted in the multicornered fights throughout Sabah, which is now working in favour of Barisan Nasional.
Will Anwar ever, ever learn anything from Sabah? Errors committed a year or two before a general election can be corrected or forgotten with the luxury of sufficient time, but Anwar may have committed another major blunder in Sabah in the throes of the post-dissolution-day period, with nio more time for correction. After much heated arguments in his series of meetings with Datuk Wilfred Bumburing and Ansari in Kuala Lumpur, and in the face of Ansari's pre-emptive announcement of seven parliamentary candidates ahead of Anwar's announcement, Bumburing was eventually chosen to contest Tuaran parliamentary and Tamparuli state constituencies. The fallout has been nothing less than explosive in Ansari's camp!
Last Thursday's afternoon meeting of the Tuaran division which started at 4.00 pm dragged on to more than four hours due to the overheated discussion, dominated mostly by expression of bristling anger and burning frustration by Ansari's supporters who see him as a hard-working leader who had piloted and strengthened the division for 14 long years, but now sidelined in favour of a new party ally who is not even a party member. "It's like someone who had built and maintained the house is kicked out and asked to live on the ground below it," said Ansari supporter Tarmizi Sandhu. The overall sentiment was to get Ansari to contest as an independent candidate regardless of the consequences.
There has been longstanding argument by Ansari's supporters that despite Bumburing's stature as an experienced leader, his electoral support pales in comparison to Ansari's because Bumburing had won the constituency in 2008 due to support from Tuaran BN members from Upko, PBS and Umno. "Now that he has left BN he can no longer claim to have the same support, and now that the PKR division is in revolt and has decided to boycott him, he will have a very thin line of support. He can depend only on his APS (Angkatan Perpaduan Sabah) members," said Tuaran PKR member, Richard Libun Adou who also picks on Bumburing's previous pledge that he is "not keen on contesting but want only to help PR takeover Putrajaya."
But for some reasons Anwar had turned a deaf ear on all these arguments. Is the fact that Ansari had once organized a petition for the replacement of Azizah as PKR Sabah state leader, and that he was said to have been blamed by Anwar for Jeffrey's departure from PKR, thorns in the flesh that made Anwar frustrate Ansari at a critical juncture? Are there some other unknown factors in play? On Friday another impromptu divisional meeting was held to deliberate on Ansari 's next step in the traumatic turn of events. (The meeting was again without the presence of divisional deputy chief Gaibin Ransoi who was devastated by Ansari's decision to snub him and chose novice Rhodes Panilau instead to contest Kiulu, Gaibin's long-time turf (since1985)). Ansari told the meeting he had decided not to contest on a loner's ticket, much to the disappointment of his still-angry and dejected supporters. But on nomination day (yesterday) the pro-Ansari PKR group was at the Tuaran town padang accompanying Ansari's lawyer daughter Erveana who debuted into the election game as an independent candidate!
This surprising development has confirmed Ansari's decision to challenge PKR's Bumburing, on a proxy arrangement but on defiant confrontation nevertheless. He is going for broke knowing well the ultimate consequence -- sacking from PKR -- but having weighed all options, he is taking the action as the most appropriate alternative. Several questions arise from this development, not the least of which is how far Erveana can go in the attempt to outdo PKR's Bumburing, Upko's Datuk Wilfred Tangau and STAR's Jasmin Dulin in the contest. Will she (and his dad) command the support of all the PKR members and other voters in Tuaran to carve a significant mark? Tangau and Bumburing have low support from the Tuaran Bajau voters while Ansari had long established rapport with them. Will this play out in favour of Elvina?
The grapevine is abuzz with the excitement that Ansari has already launched an all-out war against Anwar, promising a daily serving of explosive revelations about Anwar's misdoings and shortcomings until election day. "I have spent years going throughout the constituency to defend Anwar against many accusations and explaining the party's vision, but now it is payback time!" he told his supporters. He said that within days he will officially launch, through a press conference, a co-operation with Jeffrey's STAR and Datuk Yong Teck Lee's SAPP to further hammer in the Borneo Agenda for state rights and autonomy, something which Anwar's is still pathetically ignorant about as pointed out by Jeffrey recently. (Interestingly, how will this affect STAR's Jasmin Dulin's candidacy in P.170 Tuaran?).
This can be fatal for PKR in Sabah and source of embarrassment for Anwar at the national level. Even if this doesn't come in the way of PR to take over Putrajaya, it will still prove to be a severe blow to significantly downgrade Anwar's stature as a national leader. It will also seriously affect the performance of all the PKR candidates in Sabah. Ansari's aim is no less than to give PKR a disfigured image, it's face painted with the mark of Malayan colonialism and Malay supremacy. This colonialism and supremacy mantra may sound like a monotone coming from Jeffrey and Yong, but coming from insurgent Ansari as a former close ally of Anwar, it will hit like a whiplash and stick like a permanent ink! What a price to pay for a 'small' blunder in Tuaran!