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10 APRIL 2024

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Frogs decided fate 3 times in Sabah's history

Many remember Lajim as the PBS state assemblymen who, together with two other PBS assemblymen, Dr Rabin Lubing and Dato Zaini Isa, crossed over to BN and started a stampede that caused the downfall of the PBS-led 'Christian' government in 1994 after the state general election. 
Tan Sri Panglima Herman Luping 
Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan was reported in the newspapers recently as saying that "all Sabah politicians are political "frogs".
He is of the opinion that Sabah politicians jump from one party to another as a matter of course; that this "frog culture" is part of Sabah's political scenery.
This is a matter of opinion and not many would agree with Jeffrey.
And in no stretch of the imagination can Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman, the Chief Minister, nor Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan be included or called "political frogs".
And more, neither can we include the late Tun Fuad Stephens, the late Tun Mustapha or the late Datuk Sundang as having been "turncoats" or political frogs as Dr Jeffrey wants us to believe by his sweeping definition when he said, " all Sabah politicians are frogs".
Since Sabah joined in the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, there are three definite occasions when elected representatives became "turn coats" or "frogs".
By their action of jumping from the political party to which they were elected as the people's representatives in the Assembly, they caused the fall of the government in power or caused irreparable damage to the political scenario in the State.
The first of these was the Upko Assemblyman for Kiulu who jumped to the "other side"(Usno-SCA Alliance) and soon after he was followed by the Upko Assemblyman for Kuala Penyu, thus giving the Usno-SCA a two thirds majority in the Assembly.
The action of these two "turncoats - for that is what they were in the eyes of those who voted for them - caused the eventual dissolution of the Upko party in December in 1967.
Stephens, the first Chief Minister of Sabah (1963 to December,1964) and the Upko party he led became the "enemy" of the Usno-SCA combined parties when Singapore was expelled from the Federation of Malaysia and for questioning this move.
Stephens, who was then the Federal Minister for Sabah Affairs" was forced to resign from his post, we are told. Upon his return to Sabah he called for a review of the terms of entry for Sabah and Sarawak for joining in the formation of Malaysia because of the expulsion of Singapore.
He called on his fellow Sabah Alliance partners (Usno and SCA) to support him on this call.
He did not get their support. Instead he was "impeached" and asked to resign as Upko President. Otherwise his party, Upko, would be expelled from the Sabah Alliance.
For daring to call for a review of the terms of entry for Sabah into Malaysia, his erstwhile friends called him a "traitor" and must be punished.
This was the beginning of the rift between the Upko leadership and the Usno-SCA leadership.
The SCA leaders had decided to side with the Usno leadership in the contest of political strength between the two foremost bumiputra leaders in Sabah, Mustapha and Stephens. It was a contest for political supremacy, no less; and Stephens did not get the support of the third "force" the Chinese leadership at the time.
The contest of political strength continued after the general election (first election) in March-April 1967.
The Usno-SCA joined together against the Upko party at the general election.
Usno won in 14 seats, Upko in 12 and the SCA in 5. One Chinese seat went to an Independent.
The Usno-SCA then formed what was termed the "Mini-Cabinet of five ministers without any Upko Assemblyman in it. The "frog culture" was then started and Upko elected Assemblymen were targeted and enticed to defect.
Chinese businessmen from across the border in Sarawak were active to look for the weak and hungry amongst Upko Assemblymen to defect and join in the Usno-SCA governing machine.
This was a clever use of a "weapon - Chinese businessmen from Sarawak - to lure Upko Assemblymen.
None of the Usno-SCA could then be accused of sabotaging the Upko party.
This was done by some unidentified people from Sarawak, who did not mind spending their money to use as "ampau". They knew they would be repaid a hundred-fold later!
And so the first to take the offer was the Assemblyman for Kiulu. He was taken to Kuala Lumpur and was hidden in a five-star hotel there. I was at the airport (old airport) to witness him being escorted by the Usno youth chief at the time. I took a photograph of him walking to board the plane; and he covered his face with his ever present "James Bond" case. This photo was printed on the front page of the "North Borneo News and Sabah Times" - the full name of the present "Sabah Times" - which I was then running.
He and the Assemblyman for Kuala Penyu were then the first " political turn coats" and probably the start of the "frog culture" in Sabah.
The second time it happened was in 1985. The PBS under Pairin Kiitingan was returned with a razor thin majority. Two PBS Assemblymen were immediately enticed to defect - one from Penampang and the other from Keningau. A third was needed - and the Kiulu Assemblyman at that time was targeted both by the two "turncoats" to join them and by the Usno leadership. He did not want to join them.
He was still a school boy in 1967 but he must have remembered the commotion caused by his predecessor Assemblyman.
Just before they could find a third one to defect, which would have caused the downfall of the PBS government, Pairin decided to dissolve the Assembly and called for a new election in 1986.
PBS continued to govern until 1994; but the PBS leadership's continued disregard to the call by many, including the then Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir, for a coalition with the Usno party eventually caused the fall of the PBS government, when three PBS Assemblymen, two elected and one appointed defected to the Sabah Umno party after the 1994 election.
Many political commentators today, including those who were active to get PBS assemblymen to defect, are of the opinion that had the PBS leadership relaxed its political hold in Sabah (insisting on governing the State without the Muslim large community), the Usno party would not have been dissolved and Umno would not have been invited to spread its wing to Sabah.
PBS leadership can also be accused of trying to entice Usno Assemblymen to defect.
The PBS fought the 1985 election with the Usno leaders, including Mustapha, believing that they were political partners against the Berjaya party in power then.
There was an agreement to this effect and when PBS leaders decided to go ahead with the formation of the government on its own, Usno leaders took this as an affront against them.
They accused PBS leaders of reneging from an agreement.
And before the 1990 general election, there was an attempt by the then Prime Minister to extend a "hand of friendship" to the PBS leadership. This was conveyed to one of Sabah's veteran politician, Tan Sri Ghani Gilong. Through him he extended the Prime Minister's "olive branch" to the PBS with the request for a coalition partnership with Usno, with the promise that Sabah would be governed like Penang which was under the Gerakan Party and Chief Minister.
This offer was not taken up and probably not believed in by the PBS leadership.
It was also the year when, during the election campaign of 1990, that the PBS decided to leave the BN coalition government fold and joined the newly-formed Gagasan Rayat led by Tengku Razaleigh.
The rest is history.
But it was not until the election of 1994 that three PBS Assemblymen decided to defect, became traitors to their party and leadership and the people who voted for them, and joined Sabah Umno and caused the fall of the PBS government.
From the above definition and interpretation of what constitutes a political "turncoat" or "frog", it is quite clear that Musa does not fall under the category of a "political frog" or "turncoat". I happen to have been his neighbor for some time and I know his political likes and dislikes.
He was not interested in politics then; he was busy building his own business.
He rose to become one of Sabah's successful young businessmen.
He was recognised for his business leadership qualities when he was elected the President of the Bumiputra Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sabah.
And he held this post for a good number of years until he eventually decided to take part in politics.
For him to join politics it took some doing by Mustapha.
By the early 1990s, Mustapha wanted to strengthen Usno and to do this he must call on all young Muslim leaders, especially successful businessmen, to rally to his call to join and strengthen the party.
For Musa it was a case of a "call", an invitation to be "counted" in the scheme of things in Sabah.
He answered and was immediately voted to become the Party's Treasurer, a post he held with verve and dedication.
But then Mustapha was also a realist and the only way for him to win against the PBS was to dissolve Usno - an action which he told me much later, he regretted - and called on the mighty Umno to come to Sabah and replace the Usno party.
And that is how Musa became a Sabah Umno member and later, its leader.
To this latter, we think he is born into it; it was case of a political journey of progression.
The law of attraction says that "likes attracts likes". Musa was and is a caring person and this asset he possessed made him a successful leader to be admired. Datuk Seri Salleh Tun Said Keruak is correct when he said that Musa is the best person to lead Sabah.
His records of service speak for themselves. And definitely, he is not a "political frog" nor can he be described a "political turn coat".
The same can be said of Pairin . He does not fall under the category of a "turncoat".
He was forced to form a political party when he was unceremoniously "booted" away and his constituency of Tambunan declared vacant by the Speaker of the Assembly.
He won in the by-election held in 1984 by a large majority.
The Registrar of Societies took some time to approve the registration of his party - the PBS - .
The government in power in 1985, wanted to dissolve the Assembly before his party was registered.
After consulting his colleagues, he decided to take over the leadership of the Pasok party so that he could have a vehicle for the coming election. But just a day after he announced that he would take over the leadership of Pasok, a word was received by me from Kuala Lumpur that the PBS has been registered as a Party and that the Registration certificate was issued and on its way to Kota Kinabalu.
He announced that the PBS would be his vehicle for the election of 1985.
There is therefore not an iota of evidence to show that he is a "political frog" or a "turncoat".
However, I am not sure about Dr Jeffrey himself as a political leader.
He said his action for joining political parties was for the people and not for himself.
He could be right.
But history itself would judge him and his action. Why for example did he leave the PBS, the party of his elder brother to join Akar the party started by the late Datuk Mark Koding.
To me, Akar was a splinter party of PBS. Mark could not find accommodation with Pairin's political philosophy and he left to form a splinter party. He had Pandikar Haji Amin as a strong supporter and later to take over the leadership of that party.
Pandikar had a "battle royale" with Dr Jeffrey for the leadership of Akar, we read in the newspapers, later.
After he lost, I thought Dr Jeffrey eventually returned to the PBS party.
His elder brother decided to "forgive and forget". But then soon after he led five other PBS Assemblymen to join the PBRS of Joseph Kurup. There was another "battle royale" between him and Kurup.
As Kurup described his action, " it was a Taliban-like ambush". There was a court case involved and I happened to represent Kurup in court in that "struggle".
The latter won and was also confirmed as the right and proper person to be the leader of the PBRS by the Registrar of Societies. Dr Jeffrey and his five Assemblymen decided to rejoin the PBS after that.
And now he is with Star, an opposition political party started in Sarawak.
And that is the story.
The above was originally published in the Daily Express of Sabah on 7th July 2012


  1. A good leader will stay last and the not so good leader will never be the leader of the leaders. Hehe. Kudos to Musa for doing great jobs in Sabah despite all the criticisms and slanders.

  2. Be a leader with principle. To frog because of rakyat or frog because of political survival?

  3. pemimpin yang hanya utamakan kepentinganm sendiri memang tidak layak untuk menjadi pemimpin dan wajar disingkir PRU nanti.

    1. pilih pemimpin yang benar2 brjuang untuk rakyat.

    2. janglah jadi pemimpin katak, jadi pemimpin ada pendirian.


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