Politicians play frog again


Luyang and Kadamaian assemblymen start the ball rolling by ditching their parties in Sabah, and more Yang Berhormat are expected to follow in their footsteps. 

Philip Golingai, The Star 

IT is the jumping frog season again in Sabah. So far, after the May 5 general election, there have been two confirmed jumps.

Luyang assemblyman Hiew King Cheu ditched the DAP on Sept 27 and Kadamaian assemblyman Jeremy Malajad @ Malazad ditched the PKR on Nov 4.

Hiew and Malajad declared themselves as Barisan Nasional-friendly assemblymen.

Then there’s the strange case of PKR’s Matunggong assemblyman Datuk Jelani Hamdan.

On Friday, he called for a 3pm press conference at his office in Kota Kinabalu. Many expected him to jump especially after he posted on Facebook that PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim “is not god”.

That morning, the joke among journalists was Christmas had come early in Matunggong, the Rungus heartland about two hours north of Kota Kinabalu. It seems Santa Claus was spotted in the northern district.

Instead, Jelani did a Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin, who probably performed the longest political striptease in the history of Malaysia when the then Beaufort MP and a deputy minister, delayed for months his eventual jump from Umno to the PKR.

Jelani told journalists that he was quitting as Sabah PKR liaison committee vice-chief. He also said that he could not quit the PKR because he was never a member of the party.

In what must have been the quote of the day, he said: “How can I resign when I don’t know if I am really a member?”

“But you should be a party member by virtue of you winning the Matunggong state seat under the PKR ticket in the 13th general election?” a journalist asked.

His situation, according to the politician who is a lawyer, was similar to that of Datuk Wilfred Bum­buring.

Bumburing, who as Tuaran MP, ditched Upko (a Barisan component party) to form a pro-Pakatan Rakyat NGO called Angkatan Perubahan Sabah, won the Tamparuli state seat on the PKR ticket without being its member.

The chicken has indeed come back to roost. Anwar’s decision to field PKR Photocopy such as Jelani, Malajad and Bumburing at the expense of PKR Ori (Original) has backfired. These non-PKR assemblymen have no loyalty to the party.

The standard reasons the politicians gave for leaving the Opposition were: “Blah blah blah for the sake of the rakyat. Blah blah blah to develop my constituency. Blah blah blah the voters want me to jump.”

Sometimes it is unfair to joke about why these politicians jump. Definitely, there is a lucrative pull factor for them to become political frogs. Allow me to subtly hint, “development funds”.

Nevertheless, there is also an ugly push factor. There is something rotten happening in their party that compelled them to leave.

Take the example of Jelani. He said his dissatisfaction with the PKR leadership stemmed from Anwar’s appointment of Lajim as the Sabah state assembly Opposition chief and state party leader.

“What seniority? Lajim joined the PKR two days after the election? Surely there were other more established party leaders who could have led Sabah PKR committee,” he said.

There are also those especially from the SAPP, the Sabah-based Opposition party that didn’t win any seat in GE13, who said the PKR and DAP were rather “careless” in fielding these politicians.

“Why did Anwar field Jelani who was a founding member of Kota Marudu Umno?” an SAPP leader asked me.

The same with the DAP, they already had their suspicion on Hiew when he was Kota Kinabalu MP, and yet the party fielded him in Luyang.

The reactions from leaders of the party they’ve ditched can be rather hypocritically comical.

The DAP launched a signature campaign to force Hiew to vacate the Luyang seat. DAP’s Likas assemblyman Junz Wong said the campaign was to send a message to all elected politicians to put an end to the “political frog culture” that has existed in Sabah for the last 50 years.

The funny thing is that the DAP was silent when Lajim and Bumburing ditched Barisan. In fact, many were happy to be on the same stage as these political frogs.

PKR vice-president Tian Chua called Malajad’s quit move as an act of betrayal.

“PKR vehemently condemns this unethical act,” he said.

The question Tian Chua should ask himself is did he vehemently condemn Lajim and Bumburing’s unethical act when they declared themselves Pakatan Rakyat-friendly MPs.

The condemnation you would have least expected came from Lajim.

The Klias assemblyman said Malajad’s quit move was “an act of betrayal of the mandate given to him by the people in Kadamaian”.

“He and other candidates in PKR, including me, who won the seats in the GE13, were given the trust by the party not for the purpose of forming a government but to serve the rakyat,” he said.

Even thick-skinned politicians blushed when they read his statement.

Lajim has not jumped once but twice. In 1994, he brought about the collapse of the newly re-elected PBS government when he ditched it for Umno.

The next jumper would probably be Bumburing. He is set to ditch the PKR to lead a newly-registered Sabah-based Opposition party.

If he does, those grinning politicians who stood on the same stage as him when he quit Barisan should know that what comes around, goes around.

“Tukar baju bah (change shirt),” as they say it in Sabah.