Thursday, November 18, 2010

WHY SABAH, SARAWAK SHOULD LEAD?

HINDRAF Makkal Sakthi is all for the idea of a Third Force in the Malaysian Parliament but begs to differ on the details with its proponents in Peninsular Malaysia.

The ad hoc apolitical human rights movement was referring to talk of the Third Force in the wake of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) co-ordinator Zaid Ibrahim either facing the sack or quitting the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

Already, the Human Rights Party Malaysia (HRPM), Hindraf’s political wing, is ready to contest under such a force in 15 parliamentary and 38 state seats that it has designated in Peninsular Malaysia as ‘Indian’ seats i.e. at least 30 per cent of the registered voters being from the community.

The Third Force is “an idea whose time has come”, according to Hindraf chair P. Waythamoorthy. Still, he worries that it may eventually be found wanting like PR, the opposition alliance which Hindraf had no regrets in abandoning in the wake of the political tsunami of March 2008.

“We have been keenly following the explosion of interest back home and abroad in the Third Force,” said Waythamoorthy last night in a telephone call from London to exchange notes on the latest political developments in Malaysia. “We are heartened by the public debate on a possible new political movement entering Parliament.”

Still, Waythamoorthy is at a loss trying to figure out what the Third Force actually means to those in Peninsular Malaysia pushing for the idea. None of the proponents, he noted, have clearly articulated the Third Force and the public have been left with vague generalizations.

“We would suggest that the initiative for a Third Force come from Sabah and Sarawak,” said Waythamoorthy. “Let a Borneo-based national party or national coalition arise and work out the details of the Third Force.”

Waythamoorthy offers two reasons why the other half of Malaysia, across the South China Sea, should take the lead on the Third Force. Firstly, he thinks that the two Peninsular Malaysia-based national coalitions- PR and the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) - are more than enough to cater for the differing politics in the peninsula. Hence, another national coalition arising in the peninsula and lacking the necessary critical mass would quickly find itself asphyxiated between PR and BN.

Secondly, Malaysian Borneo does not have a national party or national coalition and this is where the Third Force comes in to fill the political vacuum.

“A Borneo-based national party or national coalition would be able to give meaning to the historical and legal fact that Malaysia is a federation of three territories i.e. Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia,” said Waythamoorthy. “But who will take the lead in Malaysian Borneo in forming and leading the Third Force?”

Answering his own question, Waythamoorthy plugs for Sabah strongman Jeffrey Kitingan leaving PKR and leading the Third Force.

“Jeffrey has the right political pedigree and must take a stand,” opined Waythamoorthy. “Either he’s with PKR or he’s out. If he’s out, then the 3 rd Force is the approach he should take unless he wants to go back to Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and save it like what his brother Pairin has been urging him to do.”

The Hindraf chief’s fear is that someone in Peninsular Malaysia will hijack the Third Force leadership if Jeffrey hesitates too long in PKR.

Waythamoorthy draws a line at the Third Force being led by a presumably-Malay based party in Peninsular Malaysia. He warns that this would raise the spectre of Malay political supremacy. He does not think that Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak would go for such a model which already exists in BN and PR, albeit under the guise of people’s supremacy in the latter.

“Sabah and Sarawak have real issues to resolve arising from their participation in Malaysia,” said Waythamoorthy. “The Third Force offers them the right political formula to apply in the Malaysian Parliament.”

Waythamoorthy sees the Third Force striking a balance between BN and PR in Parliament but at the same time favouring one to form the federal government. He’s not in favour of the Third Force being in such a government, even a minority one, unless it can form and lead it or a government of national unity is formed by BN, PR and the Third Force.

“The Third Force introduces the element of balance of terror in our politics and Parliament,” said Waythamoorthy. “This will enable the genuine democratization of our political system.”

Besides Sabah, Sarawak and Hindraf/HRPM, Waythamoorthy would include the Orang Asli, marginalized groups like the Christians in Peninsular Malaysia and Zaid Ibrahim’s proposed new party in the Borneo-based national party or national coalition.

The Hindraf chair plans to hold a conference soon in London on the Third Force to invite feedback from Malaysians resident in the British capital and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Europe. There are an estimated two million Malaysians living abroad.

Jeffrey, contacted late last night after Waythamoorthy’s call, said that he was in no hurry to think about the Third Force. Unlike Hindraf he does not worry that someone in Peninsular Malaysia will hijack the leadership of the Third Force.

“If the Peninsular Malaysians want to lead the Third Force as well, then we in Sabah and Sarawak can set up a Fourth Force,” said Jeffrey who stressed that he was being serious. “And if Umno opens its doors to Indians and Chinese and becomes the Fourth Force, we can set up the Fifth Force.”

He declined to entertain questions that he would leave PKR soon or return to PBS. However, he confirmed that he would not join any party set up by Zaid or anyone else in Peninsular Malaysia.

“Our politics is different,” said Jeffrey. “We should not jump from the frying pan into the fire. Two wrongs do not make one right.”

He also declined to dwell on speculation in KK that a new Borneo-based party headed by him was in the works.

He responded that “it was news” to him when asked for his take on widespread speculation in Kota Kinabalu that de facto PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim called him over the weekend and offered to let him name the party’s candidates for all the KadazanDusunMurut seats in Sabah.

He pointed out that Anwar had made many promises in Sabah before and “never kept any of them” except for appointing Christina Liew Chin Jin as the state deputy chief late last year.

Anwar, according to reliable sources, fears that Jeffrey would be the next major figure to quit PKR after Zaid and hopes to entice him to stay by offering him some carrots. It may be too little, too late, underlining the Grecian tragedy that Anwar has become since 2008.

It has also been learnt from other sources that PKR deputy presidential hopeful Azmin Ali has been in touch with Jeffrey since the reported Anwar offer but other details are not known. Jeffrey, on his part, remains tight-lipped on the reported development.

* The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of Sabahkini.net and/or its associates.

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1 Responses to " WHY SABAH, SARAWAK SHOULD LEAD? "
Anonymous said...
June 20, 2011 at 7:57 AM

Harap Sabah dan Sarawak akan buktikannya.