It is the norm in Sabah, in East Malaysia, for politicians to cause ripples now and then – cataclysms, even – in the political landscape through party-hopping and the changing of allegiances.
It has become part of their political culture to jump ship, unburdened by any qualms that such actions could destabilise and undermine the government.
Politicians, by their very nature self-serving, exhibit positive and negative character traits, vis-a-vis the people.
The superficial positive side emerges during elections, and at other times, when they need to show that they care for the rakyat.
The negative side, which is the mainstay of their political character, is manifested in their attitude of serving their own selfish agenda.
Just look at the recent political turmoil in Sabah to bring down a sitting government, perpetrated by Sabah Umno chief, Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, and his cohorts.
They withdrew the party’s support for Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor. Later however, five Umno members backpedalled, and pledged support for Hajiji.
They were later rewarded with ministerial, and the deputy chief minister’s post, while others were given lucrative positions in government-linked companies (GLCs).
Bung Moktar and his cohorts were later replaced in a Cabinet reshuffle.
According to Hajiji’s detractors, his position as chief minister was controversial.
They said Hajiji was without a party following his exit from Parti Pribumi Bersatu, although he claims to still be a part of a coalition called Gabungan Rakyat Sabah.
Sabah Governor Tun Juhar Mahiruddin later sanctioned the new Cabinet line-up in a ceremony at Istana Seri Kinabalu, reaffirming Hajiji’s position as chief minister.
This episode shows that politicians from both sides of the divide lack loyalty and integrity, and are only concerned with power and position.
The peoples’ welfare is not at the forefront of their concerns, despite the self-serving politicians’ repeated justifications that these ‘power struggles’ were for the benefit of the rakyat. It is unfortunate that many are gullible and believe them.
That this political turmoil periodically rears its ugly head is partly due to party hopping, which is notorious among Sabah’s politicians.
Many of them have hopped several times, abandoning friends, ideals, and principles, even linking up with sworn enemies, all for the sake of political expediency.
Sabah politicians know that party hopping is a bane for stable governance, but is of no consequence to them because it offers them opportunities, including political positions, power, and wealth.
This is why the Sabah government has not passed the anti-hopping law. The assemblymen know full well that they stand to lose, as it would prevent them from benefitting from the system.
It is clear that Sabah’s political engagement, deliberations, and haggling has never been about the people, but rather, the elected few.
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.