COMMENT: Maybe desperate situations do require desperate solutions.
A few days ago former (Berjaya) Chief Minister Harris Salleh explained how and why UMNO came to Sabah.
He attributed it to the PBS not honouring the pre-polls agreement with USNO on the formation of a coalition government after the 1985 general elections.
In 1986, together with ex USNO leaders Sakaran Dandai, the late Tun Said Keruak and Gani Gilong, they wrote to then Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohammad requesting for UMNO to come in to Sabah.
They also had this vision, through the party a Sabahan would become Prime Minister one day, he said.
The political situation in Sabah was very unstable at that time. Berjaya Party had never dreamed that they would lose to a 45-day old PBS.
To defeat Berjaya, PBS had some kind of understanding with USNO. Some said it was a “Gentleman’s Agreement”, and some said there was a signed agreement. Nobody has come out yet to tell what the arrangement was all about even though most of the main players are still around.
Those who supported PBS would refute that they reneged the agreement; their version was that PBS and USNO would only form a coalition government in the event neither party won enough seats to go past the post. To PBS if either one did not have a majority, only then there would be a coalition government.
PBS had won a simple majority of two seats and they could collect the six nominated seats, enough to form the state government, thus the idea of coalition government to them didn’t arise.
Along the way, communications broke down between PBS and USNO, and it appeared PBS was closing the door on USNO as phone calls went unanswered.
This gave an opening for some people from Berjaya to put together a deal with USNO, and Tun Mustapha was rushed to the Istana to be sworn in as the chief minister at some ungodly hours, hence the Istana episode as it was generally referred to.
Was Mustapha in the right frame of mind to do what he did against his better judgement? Maybe he was too tired, furthermore emotions were running high, and nobody was thinking straight. Maths became fuzzy.
And Pairin nearly lost the coveted post, if not for the intervention of Musa Hitam, the then deputy prime minister.
Politically Sabah was in in unchartered waters. There were riots resulting in bombings and a few fatalities that followed.
PBS also according to Harris had a conducted a widespread side-lining of Muslim natives in all fields, including the civil service and economy. Against this backdrop, UMNO was invited to come here.
In hindsight, of course PBS lost the golden opportunity to form a united government with USNO. In other words, PBS didn’t play their cards right. To most observers, Sabah is paying dearly for this strategic mistake, paving the way for UMNO to come here. Then there was so much mistrust and suspicion with all the main players at that time, it was practically impossible to get it together. It was playing by ear kind of situation, as it was hard to see beyond today, tomorrow might not come for some people so grab while you can.
With UMNO in the state, political stability was restored. The Wild, Wild East days disappeared and in 1994 state elections, Barisan Nasional regained control of the state, through a series of defections by PBS elected candidates.
The rotation system was then introduced by Mahathir where all the three main communities had the chance to be the chief minister under a two-year tenure.
It was later abolished; Sabah has been under the current chief minister, Musa Aman since 2005.
Now, with elections fast approaching, grumblings are heard again from some quarters who are saying UMNO should not be here.
With more awareness of state’s rights under Malaysia Agreement(MA63), and the non-compliance of many provisions, many are saying only local based parties can look after the State better like neighbouring Sarawak where there is no UMNO.
That local UMNO-led state government is rather subdued in demanding what is due in MA63 is rather telling. Only now some kind of action is being taken by forming a technical committee to look into Sabah’s rights. Then many including the opposition parties think nothing will come out of it.
Whether Sabahans like it or not, UMNO is here to stay. Just in case some of us don’t get it, the mainly Muslim voters in the 30 currently held seats by UMNO will decide its future here in this coming election. If there is going to be a change of government, it is going to be decided in those areas.
The rest of us can make as much noise as we can, it will not change the political landscape.
The intrigues and the skulduggery are about to start, so fasten your seat belt, folk.
UMS’ HARUN OWES US ALL BIG TIME EXPLANATION ON MISSING WRECKS
Another tourist asset is gone just like that. Divers who went down to check on the 72-year-old ship wrecks off Usukan in Kota Belud waters saw nothing but a desolate seabed except for chunks of metal scattered as a reminder of their existence.
The wrecks besides being a popular diving site with divers and tourists, they also became artificial reefs teeming with marine life and a fishing ground for local fishermen.
The divers reported that the three Japanese Navy ships sunk by torpedoes from a US Navy submarine on October 1st, 1944 are no longer where they were.
According to reports, the area was closed for salvaging work undertaken by Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) using a grant awarded by a local company that has expertise in marine management. The work was awarded to a local company, Ugeens Berjaya Enterprise using a China-registered vessel.
UMS said there was some toxic materials that needed to be researched, and UMS vice chancellor, Mohd Harun Abdullah said the salvage and research needed to be carried out to reduce future risks to the local fishermen’s’ livelihoods as the wrecks were badly corroded, and had negative impact on the environment and the community whose source of income were from that area.
While the approval to do the salvage was in order, permission from Sabah Marine director was given after discussion with UMS, Sabah Museum, Sabah Parks and National Security Council. Sabah Parks had since denied they were consulted.
Marine director, Abdul Nasar Abdul Hadi was quoted as saying the department approved the work from January 6th to April 6th.
The condition was that the wrecks were not to be taken out from the waters or shifted to another site unless permission was obtained from the director.
The work was basically taking the materials from the wrecks onto the salvage ship which would be inspected by the research team.
Because of the concern shown by the divers and the local fishermen, state Minister for Tourism and Culture, Masidi Manjun expressed surprise by the salvaging activities as his ministry was not even informed. He told UMS to stop work which was agreed by the vice chancellor.
But, the damage was done, and UMS must be made responsible for the poor handling of the whole issue if there is no adequate explanation coming from them.
It is a bit far-fetched to imagine that 3,000 tonnes of toxic waste not to have leaked after all these years. The wrecks must have had some water tight compartments!!.
So, what was the real motive?
A letter to the editor in a local newspaper had hinted that there were treasures in those sunken wrecks, and this was also the talk among divers and members of the public. Of course UMS had legitimate research reasons only known to themselves, we would not know the truth of course, unless someone tells us in a more convincing manner.
Whatever it is, it was a shame that a higher learning institution didn’t quite understand the economic significance of the wrecks in connection to tourism and local fishing industry.
What was worse the disrespect shown to history as well as the watery graves of the Japanese sailors and the environment of the area when UMS should be in the forefront educating and setting a good example to the community at large.
COLD SNAP CAUSES ICE SHEETS TO FORM ATOP MOUNT KINABALU
Unusual cold weather has hit us here especially on top of Mount Kinabalu where minus 2°Celsius has been recorded, freezing water at some places and turning it into ice sheets.
According to State Meteorological Department, this is due to North East Monsoon which is due to end of March.
Combined with high pressure cold wind coming from Siberia that blows across South East Asia region and the lack of cloud formation at night, we have this cold spell currently.
On Wednesday, Kota Kinabalu recorded 21°C, Keningau 16°C, Kudat 20°C and Ranau the coldest with 15°C.
So, President Trump is right after all.
According to him there is no such thing as global warming, it is a hoax created by and for the Chinese. Our planet is freezing, he said.
He wants to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of US tax dollar to UN global warming programmes.
The man is a genius, of course there is no global warming, it is global cooling. At least in our part of the world!!!
Note: PBS left the BN much earlier to contest under its own banner in 1990. In 1994 PBS again won power but days later it collapsed as its elected representatives left to form PBRS, PDS (as Upko was called then) or joined MCA and Umno. We have rephrased a paragraph to make the comment more accurate. Ed