Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sabah: Land Below the Wind but PKR can't stand the wind


Raja Petra Kamarudin

On 28 October 2009, Dr Jeffrey Kitingan tenders his resignation as the PKR vice president while Christina Liew resigns as a supreme council member. However, they both stay on as party members.

Slightly over a week later, on 6 November 2009, Tian Chua, Michael Bong, Jeffrey, and the group now known as ‘the dirty dozen’, sit down to hammer out a peace treaty. Jeffrey and the 12 ‘renegades’ hand the delegation from Kuala Lumpur a list of demands.

About a month later, on 4 December 2009, the 12 PKR division leaders submit an application to the Registrar of Societies to form a new party called Parti Cinta Sabah.

Two days later, on 6 December 2009, the application is withdrawn after the PKR Sabah leaders make a trip to Kuala Lumpur and a behind-the-scenes negotiation reaches a settlement.

A week later, on 13 December 2009, the party rejects Jeffrey’s resignation as vice president.

Another week later, on 20 December 2009, during the party’s Sabah convention, Anwar announces that those who had submitted an application to form a new party are traitors who must be sacked. He also announces that the issue of Jeffrey’s and Christina’s resignations plus the appointment of Thamrin as the new PKR Sabah head have been amicably resolved. Christina is reinstated to her post while Jeffrey is given the task of overseeing Sabah and Sarawak.

On 10 January 2010, the Sabah issue is considered resolved.

On 7 June 2010, the party receives a complaint against the 12 who had earlier filed an application to form a new party but two days later had withdrawn that application.

On 23 July 2010, a show-cause letter is issued to the 12.

On 30 July 2010, the 12 reply to the show-cause letter.

On 24 August 2010, the party’s disciplinary committee investigates the 12 and recommends a one-year suspension.

Tomorrow, 29 August 2010, the party’s supreme council will meet to decide the fate of the 12.

Well, this looks like a very straightforward case. 12 PKR Sabah leaders have breached party discipline and ethics by attempting to form a new party and must now be made to pay for it. There is not a more cut-and-dry case than this.

Or so at least that’s what it looks like. But it is not that cut-and-dry. There are more issues than that to be considered, including what was agreed in the behind-the-scenes negotiations.

Note one crucial point. On 4 December 2009, the 12 filed an application to form a new party. Two days later, a few top leaders from PKR Sabah went down to Kuala Lumpur for a peace negotiation and that same day the application to form a new party was withdrawn.

Now, what begs answers is why did the 12 withdraw their application to form a new party merely two days later, the same day that the Sabah leaders went down to Kuala Lumpur to negotiate a settlement?

Logic would tell us that the 12 withdrew their application to form a new party the day they sat down for negotiations because they had arrived at an amicable solution. If the negotiation had broken down then why the need to withdraw the application? And if during the negotiations it was made clear that the 12 would need to be punished then what is the purpose of withdrawing the application? Might as well they proceed with the formation of the new party if PKR is going to kick them out anyway.

This is the part that I am a bit disturbed with. Yes, the 12 have breached party discipline and ethics by filing an application to form a new party. There must be no compromise on this. They need to be axed -- no two ways about it.

However, if they had been called to the negotiation table and part of the peace treaty was that they would withdraw their application to form a new party -- which they did -- then they have been sold out.

We either fight or we talk. Let the 12 go and form their new party. Let Jeffrey and Christina resign -- to hell with the whole lot. But if we call them for negotiations and reject their resignation and ask them to withdraw the application to form a new party, then a deal is a deal.

That is what troubles me.

The argument the dissident Sabah faction offers is that Anwar Ibrahim knew that the 12 had filed an application to form a new party and, of course, that Jeffrey and Christina had tendered their resignations. But Anwar wanted them to stay on and the party even turned down their resignations and persuaded the 12 to withdraw their application to form a new party.

Was this the deal? Then why renege on the deal?

We need to know why the 12 withdrew their application to form a new party merely two days later. Who asked them to do this and what was the inducement? Was this done on their own initiative or at the behest of the ‘negotiators’?

Forget about whether the 12 did or did not breach party discipline and ethics. Of course they did. There is no doubt about that and we need not waste any time debating this issue. The most crucial, and to me, the only question is, was there a deal and has this deal now been violated?

These 12 did a u-turn merely two days later. Why did they do a u-turn?

The party’s credibility plus that of Anwar may take a plunge if this question is not satisfactorily answered. People need to know that PKR’s and Anwar’s word is as good as gold. If there are allegations that PKR or Anwar make promises but never keeps them then we are as good as dead in the water.

This is what troubles me. I don’t care about the 12. Whether they stay or go does not concern me one bit. But if they were offered a deal and then were sold down the river then my vote is with the 12, notwithstanding what crime they committed.

Another factor to not ignore is that these 12 represent the biggest ethic group in Sabah. Look at the following breakdown.

Kadazan-Dusun: 17.8%

Bajau: 13.4%

Malays: 11.5%

Murut: 3.3%

Other Bumiputras: 14.6%

Chinese (majority Hakka): 13.2%

The Sabah crisis is being made to appear like it is the Malays-Muslims versus the ‘others’. This is the second thing that troubles me. We can’t turn Sabah politics into a Malay-Muslim dominated situation. We must accept the fact that the Malays-Muslims are the minority in both Sabah and Sarawak. So, if we want the Malays-Muslims to dominate Sabah-Sarawak politics, then PKR is as good as dead.

And if we fail in Sabah and Sarawak then, as I said earlier, we can kiss Putrajaya goodbye. Now do you understand what I mean when I say that race and religion can screw up the country big-time? Sigh….

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