By : JAIKOL SITUN
I HAPPENED to bump into this West Malaysian friend of mine a couple of days ago at an airport terminal while waiting for my flight to KL. Having renewed our acquaintance, our topic quickly moved to politics, although we picked our words carefully for fear of giving away our true political identity, as it were, lest the other was on the opposite side.
We tried to be professional about it as we both took a somewhat neutral stance or can’t-care-less attitude so that our conversation remained pleasant and civil. My friend then told me something that has dwelt in my mind ever since. He said:
“Jack, it looks like the Kadazans will decide the course of Malaysian history this election.”
What? A mere 2% of the Malaysian population with the ability to do that? On second thought, the Kadazans, at this present moment, are in an astonishingly rare position to determine which way Malaysian politics and governance are headed.
By the way, whenever I mention Kadazans, I also mean to say Kadazandusun-Murut or KDMs which include all the 40 or so Dusunic tribes totalling more than half a million or about 30% of the 'official' population of Sabah
Recent developments seem to corroborate my friend’s assessment. For the first time in a decade, the leaders of the three KDM-based parties of PBS, UPKO and PBRS in Sabah BN came out together to proclaim their full support for BN and Najib’s continued leadership.
Then, Najib’s last week’s visit to Sabah covered predominantly KDM areas underscoring the crucial role this community now plays in politics and nation building.
As you may be aware of, it was the KDMs in PBS-UPKO-PBRS who slavishly propped up the UMNO led Sabah government for the past decade. It will largely be the KDMs in those parties who decide if UMNO continue to rule Sabah and, or help ensure BN secure an overall majority nationwide.
On the opposition side, again, it will be the KDMs who determine if the locally-based parties of STAR and SAPP fare well in the election, and should they do well, they would go on to press for new terms and conditions for Sabah’s membership in the Malaysian federation. So you see, the KDMs now command formidable clout on both sides of the political divide.
What about the more than 800,000 illegal immigrants in possession of genuine Mykads on the electoral rolls? We know they have been traditional BN and UMNO supporters, but after the Lahad Datu conflict, nobody is so sure which party they would be voting for in this election.
The opposition particularly STAR and SAPP would like to think that many would now support them while those in BN and UMNO are confident their loyalty remains intact.
However, due to some damming revelations during the now adjourned Royal Commission on Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants, political parties are for the time being, taking a cautious approach on this issue to avoid any suggestions that they are in cahoots with these newcomers.
We would know which party or parties these so-called illegal immigrants supported come May 6th. Should BN and UMNO retain many seats, we would know that these people are quite happy with the status quo.
If STAR and SAPP managed to wrest control of seats in traditional UMNO strongholds, we would know these illegals have switched sides, thus setting a trend for an unlikely Sabahans/KDMs-illegal immigrants’ alliance against the 'neo-colonial power' in the years ahead. This would cause shivers down KL’s spine.
So how would KL prevent the possibility of a Sabahans/KDMs-illegal immigrants’ link up in the not so distant future? KL cannot just drive away hundreds of thousands back to the Philippines and Indonesia as they are now Malaysian citizens in their own right with genuine Mykads.
KL might carry out various measures to ensure that the discord and enmity between them persist and try to convince Sabahans that these illegals are the enemy and KL are the ally. At the same time, KL would endeavour to placate the KDMs by whatever means and manner necessary thus, creating a win-win-scenario for KDMs again.
Whatever happens, you can bet your life that it will mainly be the KDMs with overriding native rights who would serve as the catalyst for any geo-political change in Sabah that would have far reaching consequences in neighbouring Sarawak and subsequently throughout Malaysia.
There have been quite a few derogatory remarks that are annoyingly true about the KDMs, such as, “Dusun senang disusun” (Dusuns are easily fixed) or “Orang KDM macam kerbau kena tarik hidung” (KDMs are like buffaloes that can be pulled by the nose).
In the light of recent developments, these demeaning remarks no longer hold much water. Indeed, the KDMs will be the sculptors, navigators, and kingmakers of Malaysian politics in this election and beyond. So for once, if you are a KDM, be proud of your roots. Search your soul and use your wisdom to decide the course of Malaysian history on 5th May 2013.