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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Meaningless Kimanis by-election one big yawn

I am somewhat jaded with by-elections, and I find following the Kimanis by-election quite a chore. I’m glad it’s over.
Except for the Sabah Temporary Pass issue which was the main weapon against Parti Warisan Sabah, others were old, stale issues which mean nothing to those outside Sabah, really.
But various surveys which found that local issues and development matters would factor in the Kimanis polls were correct. I would add that economic problems plus the voters’ dissatisfaction with Pakatan Harapan’s performance were the death knell for Warisan in Kimanis.
Umno’s Mohamad Alamin defeated his Warisan opponent Karim Bujang by 2,029-vote majority, polling 12,706 votes to Karim's 10,677 votes. That was a respectable majority.

I was wrong this time as I had expected a Warisan victory.
On Friday, Jan 17, I sent out the following comments on the by-election to my contact list:
“I expect Warisan to win Kimanis tomorrow.
“On Jan 5, I wrote: ‘All things considered, I foresee sweet victory for Warisan. On Jan 18, Kimanis will be ‘manis’ (sweet) for Shafie Apdal and his party, not Umno’.
“A victory for either side is probably a mere consolation prize. Not much is at stake here.
“I consider Kimanis a meaningless by-election, a waste of time with millions spent for nothing”.
A Kuching friend whom I’ve known to be a keen political observer concurred that the Kimanis by-election was a meaningless one because it makes no difference to the prevailing political equation no matter which side won.
What I find most interesting was when he waded into the Election Court’s decision on Aug 16 last year declaring null and void Anifah Aman’s win in Kimanis. This was upheld by the Federal Court on Dec 10.
He questioned several judgements favouring Harapan politicians of late and wondered whether judges were really fair and impartial, noting that such decisions would be unthinkable if Barisan Nasional was still in power.
I will not add to this as the subject will probably take another new chapter to comment. For now, let the people be the judge of the judges and their judgements.
BN/Umno may have won Kimanis, but this is just a by-election. The victory gave Umno an additional parliamentary seat and bolstered the party’s pride and ego. That’s about it.
Right now, Warisan and Chief Minister Shafie Apdal (photo) are still firmly in charge in the land below the wind, at least for the next three years till GE15. There should be no pretenders to the Sabah throne for now.
The Kimanis by-election was the 10th after GE14. Harapan lost in four of the nine by-elections, a mix of parliamentary and state assembly seats, and won five. Umno’s victory in Kimanis put the score evenly at five wins and five defeats each.
Why do I find the Kimanis by-election meaningless? From the outset, I have my doubts on the Election Court ruling. If election offences were that easily detectable and deemed to be serious, there should have been more by-elections. I hope it’s not a case of who and which side file the election petition.
Right from the start, the Kimanis by-election was also a big yawn. Except for Umno and Warisan in Sabah, the rest of Malaysia hardly paid much attention to it. Only politicians were attentive.
Over the two-week campaign period, I was in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Johore Baru. No one I met mentioned the Kimanis by-election at all. There was no interest even within my politically conscious circles in the locations I was over the past two weeks.
I also did not follow it as closely as the Tanjung Piai by-election last November.
The Tanjung Piai by-election was necessary because of the untimely passing of its incumbent. It also generated much interest because it was an MCA versus Bersatu tussle.
Many, including Harapan supporters, were happy with the decision of the Tanjung Piai voters. I was ecstatic that they taught Harapan a lesson by giving MCA’s Wee Jeck Seng a landslide victory. The people’s disillusionment with Harapan was clear.
Sabah Bersatu showed great political acumen by willingly giving Warisan the right to contest Kimanis. Perhaps, the Bersatu chief in Sabah, Hajiji Noor, has weighed the odds against his party after the Tanjung Piai thrashing.
Had it been a Bersatu-Umno fight in Kimanis, the outcome would probably have been worse for Harapan. I doubt Sabahans have warmed up to Harapan and certainly not Bersatu.
Although I predicted incorrectly about a Warisan victory, I am nonetheless glad that a Harapan ally lost though I wish it was a local Sabah party which won, not Umno. It will probably take several new generations of Sabahans to forgive and forget the sins of some Umno leaders.
Despite the campaign hype by politicians from both sides describing the Kimanis by-election as crucial and a do or die battle, I find it a meaningless, boring and unnecessary by-election.
Let there be no more such by-elections from now on unless the one above decrees. Malaysians are tired of by-elections.

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com. - Mkini

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