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Party hopping in Sabah: Sin Chew Daily contributor

Party hopping in Sabah: Sin Chew Daily contributor

4/8/2020 8:13:00 AM

Party hopping in Sabah: Sin Chew Daily contributor

In the article, the author says that the calling of the Sabah snap elections itself is a victory of sorts for Warisan president Mohd Shafie Apdal.. Read more at

Mohsin AbdullahKUALA LUMPUR (SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Sabah is known as"Negeri di Bawah Bayu" or the"Land Below the Wind" because of its location just south of the typhoon-prone region of the Philippines.Hence, it is spared from getting the brunt of typhoons and hurricanes. The big winds, so to speak.

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But Sabah has always been"hit" by another kind of typhoons and hurricanes. The political big winds.Party-hopping and attempts to change the state governments mid-term forcing snap polls to be called, has happened many times before in Sabah. And now we are seeing it happen again.

A political crisis is playing out and Sabah is heading towards a snap poll after the dissolution of the state assembly.The dissolution, as we are all aware of, is because of assemblymen from one side switching to the other side. As always allegations of big money being used to"buy" allegiance is rife.

To Sabah-born political analyst Dr Oh Ei Sun, it is indeed sad that Sabah has once again descended into a situation resulting out of a"process" which he calls"froggery", a word he has coined himself.Froggery, as in frogs, refers to massive defections by members of the state assembly or ADUNs to the other side."This has happened before in 1986, 1994 and so on," says Dr Oh.

As Ilham Center CEO Azlan Zainal sees it, the move by Perikatan Nasional through former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman to take over the government with statutory declarations shows as if the switch of allegiance exists with demands and offers.

The hopping"culture", says Mr Azlan, reflects the very unhealthy and bad condition in Sabah.Sad it may be, but political analysts and observers believe a snap poll is the best way to resolve the Sabah political crisis."Now with snap election coming, the poll will be a referendum between what Tan Sri Musa did in inducing crossovers by state assemblymen versus what Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal has been doing the past two years. They are the major political rivals for the people of Sabah to choose," says analyst Dr Oh.

However, at higher level, according to Dr Oh, it is also a referendum on Perikatan Nasional represented by Musa and Pakatan Harapan Plus represented by Shafie, going on to say,"It is a test whether the people like Perikatan Nasional more or they still like Pakatan Harapan Plus."

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Mr Azlan says as the government is one helmed by a local party, Shafie and Warisan still have the upper hand."However, should the opposition somehow come up with a new coalition within the next 60 days, this can possibly see a surge of support, of course with help from the Perikatan Nasional federal government," according to Mr Azlan.

And it cannot be denied, says the Ilham man, that Shafie is under pressure in trying to defend the mandate given to his administration in 2018 due to some of the election manifesto pledges perceived as unfulfilled during his two-year rule."But then Musa's image is still tainted despite being acquitted by the courts of all 46 charges of corruption and money laundering. This still has a negative impact," says Mr Azlan.

Therefore, he feels the choice of candidates is most crucial, taking into account also that for the majority of Sabahans, development issues are always top of the their"want" lists.And one thing more, according to Mr Azlan, there's the issue of the people's safety, health and well being during the state election to be held when the country is still facing the Covid-19 pandemic.

The"health aspect success" of the Sabah election, he says, will have a bearing on the calling of the federal level snap election everybody is talking about now.Yes, the election in Sabah will be used as a gauge, or example if you like, for federal election.

And obviously there is the political bearing. According to Dr Oh,"If Shafie wins big, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddn Yassin's side may not be too keen to call for a snap election at federal level. But if Shafie loses, the PM's side will be very gung ho and say let's go for it!"

Having said that, Dr Oh predicts a victory for"Shafie's side because of sympathy and new 13 state seats likely to favour him."If I may add, whoever wins needs to win big and secure a strong majority in the state assembly. A simple majority won't do. What more a slimmest of margin.

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Such a situation will be"ideal" for enticing and wooing crossovers and to borrow Dr Oh's term,"froggery".Anyway, the calling of the Sabah snap election itself is a victory of sorts for Shafie.In the words of Warisan leader Datuk Liew Vui Keong, Shafie has checkmated Musa with the dissolution of the state assembly, preventing the Umno leader from forming the government through"an absolutely heinous and utterly shameless coup tainted with party-hopping, betrayal and money politics."

Nevertheless, to Bersih 2.0, party-hopping won't end with the Sabah snap election.The election watchdog reiterates that the"perennial problem of defections by elected representatives resulting in the collapse of both state and federal governments will remain in Malaysian politics as long as our law permits it." But this we'll discuss on another day.

Read more: The Straits Times »

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