Exhaust The Opposition, Then Deliver The Killer Blow; And Arabian Studies

The line is being drawn between those who genuinely want to get rid of BN and those who pretend they want to get rid of the ruling coalition

COMMENT: It’s not too far off the mark to say that the campaign for the 14th election has started.

Prime Minister Najib Razak is in Sabah doing ‘walkabouts’ to gauge for himself whether the early polls in Sabah is one that deserves its own merit.

On Friday in Sandakan, he was at the completed Taman Batu Sapi Peoples’ Housing Project (PPR), giving away keys to some lucky ones who can’t afford the down payment, to own home by first renting a PPR unit from the government. His first walkabout was at Harbour Square in Sandakan.

Najib on his walkabout in Sandakan last Friday. Will he call for early election in Sabah as what Musa Aman reportedly is pursuing, or will he hang on for a general election, said to be scheduled for later this year.

On Saturday, he moved to Sipitang and Putatan; these walkabouts should give him the feel of the mood of the people, and it’s now up to him whether to call for early polls here or wait for the general elections scheduled next year.

Observers are at loss as the signs are hard to read. There are pros and cons for early polls. At best they can only speculate.

Chief Minister, Musa Aman, of course prefers early polls as the reason often cited is he wants to take advantage of the disarray in the opposition camp. With as many parties as in our two hands trying to contest, it is basically no sweat for him and his component parties.

Then there is the issue of additional 13 seats due to be added to the existing 60 seats. With these additional seats there is bound to be squabbling as BN component parties want their fair share. Musa prefers to postpone the headache to later when he is back on the Chief Minister’s seat.

Parti Warisan ‘Jelajah’ has been drawing the crowds like flies to honey, but the pundits know it does not necessarily translate to votes. Nevertheless, the BN is concerned with these movements. A massive crowd of several thousand came to hear Shafie Apdal talk in Lahad Datu on Saturday, while Najib was in Sipitang.

Even if results don’t favour BN in Malaya, being in the driving seat here would still give him the clout to call the shots.

Sabah being Sabah, it is a lot easier to focus on local issues. With national issues added to the plate like 1MDB and Hadi’s Hudud Bill if it gets the nod in Parliament, things will be a lot tougher to explain to the voters. By focusing on local issues, things are more manageable.

There is another school of thought that Sabah would be better off having elections at the same time as the rest of the country, for the simple reason by dragging it, the oppositions’ limited resources would be exhausted by then. It would be easier to deliver the killer blow.

For Najib he has to look at the big picture; though the Sabah opposition appear to be on the ropes here, in politics anything can happen.

It’s a simple packed lunch for the Warisan leaders, unlike hotel-catered meals for leaders and guest from the other side.

The opposition cannot be that dumb that they are not talking to each other if they want to bury BN .Observers are saying they are talking, the line is being drawn between those who genuinely want to get rid of BN and those who pretend they want to get rid of BN.

Once that is sorted out, BN here will not have an easy time given the mood on the ground at the moment. The smart money is saying the Chinese and the Kadazan-Dusun seats are decidely anti BN. All eyes are on the Muslim seats, and with huge crowds turning up at Warisan ‘Jelajah’ (roadshows), it is anybody’s guess if this will be translated into votes.

If early polls were held here and the results are not as expected, then the pressure will be tremendous on Najib to hang on to power, while of course the reverse is also true.

It won’t be an easy decision for Najib to make; he has to be doubly sure that the decision is spot on. We can only wait and see if the gamble pays off handsomely for BN here, or otherwise.

Besides being a top oil exporter, what else can we learn from the Arabs

It is very generous of the Saudi government to offer more scholarships for our students to study in that country. We should be grateful for that kind gesture.

Their richness is beyond compare even with oil prices going south.

On his recent visit here, the King brought an entourage of 1,500 people including 20 ministers and 25 princes with him including 459 tonnes of cargo and a vast amount of halal food. The mind boggles.

Najib, left, and Foreign Minister, Anifah Aman, right, greeting the Saudi King on his arrival to Malaysia recently.

This offer of scholarships is a drop in the ocean to them, it is so miniscule like a mosquito bite.

Then, do we ever wonder why we need to send our students to the Middle East? What can they pick up an learn from with most of the countries there in turmoil?

The idea of studying abroad is to learn and to be exposed to different cultures so that the good in the cultures can be brought home like The Look East Policy for example, for the general betterment of the society.

But Saudi Arabia? Besides being a top oil exporter, what else can we learn from them?

Religion? Then their Wahabi version which they have been exporting abroad using their petrodollar is very rigid and intolerant and causes problems everywhere for its narrow interpretations. Women are not allowed to drive , for example!

While we can understand that theirs is a patriachal fully Muslim society with desert mores, the world at large is multi-cultural and multi-religious.

There are 1,500 Saudi students studying in Malaysia, and it is hoped that they do pick up and bring home some of our practises how to live with other people who are totally different in terms of culture, language, religion, food, colour skins and all that. We are all different here, and still we get to know one another.

We don’t have to follow other people blindly, we do have things to contribute if we care to look.

It is just we don’t know how!!

  • Fly on the Wall is a weekly Sunday column. Our intrepid guest columnist would like BorneoToday readers to comment on his arguments, whether your agree or not, with him. You can address them to [email protected]. We will publish your comments unless you say no.