Why like that one? Most are politicians, not leaders lah!


THE April 6 nomination day for the 10th Sarawak election provided two interesting features for me.

Firstly, it has been 24 years since we last witnessed a ‘no uncontested victory’. A record number of 213 candidates will slug it out on April 16 for all 71 seats.

The last time we saw this scenario was during the 1987 election following the infamous Ming Court revolt. This was due to the fierce electoral battle at that time. Then, there were only 48 seats up for grabs.

Secondly, I have to say that it is quite disturbing to see such a huge number of candidates in certain constituencies. For example, Balai Ringin and Belaga each received six nominations followed by Ngemah and Jepak with five contestants each. There are also 17 four-cornered tussles and 23 three-cornered battles.

Let me explain why I find this disturbing and politically nauseating.

Take a close look at some of the candidates. Some are from the same longhouses or kampungs. Most are long-time friends, while some are actually close relatives.

Let’s take this analogy. Say there are four longhouses in one area. Come election time, each longhouse wants to have a representative to contest the seat in their area. Every longhouse feels strongly that their candidate is the best to represent the interests of the community in the four longhouses. So they quarrel and argue over it for days on end. Each one gives 101 reasons why their candidate is the best choice. In the end, there are 404 reasons to confuse each other. They end up not understanding even themselves and continue to bicker over the matter.

Their animosity, coupled with stupidity, could be seen on nomination day when four candidates from the four longhouses filed their nomination papers to contest the one seat in their constituency. Of course, none of them will be elected. But they would still be happy and satisfied just by contesting, never mind that none of them won. It’s all about pride and ego.

Now, shouldn’t that community be a closely knit one instead of bickering over the right to candidacy? Why were they unable to come to a compromise and decide on one candidate? Voters will surely find it difficult to support candidates from such a backdrop. Even votes from their four longhouses are split. How on earth would they be able to win when even voters from home are divided?

Now, the same is played out among the Chinese and Malay areas as well.

Look at the Chinese seats. Two in Kuching have four-cornered contests. It would have been three if the independent candidate aspiring to contest one seat had not been disqualified. Now, that candidate has said that he wanted to join the contest because he was unhappy with his party for dropping an incumbent whom he supported.

You see, there are so many reasons to make one unhappy in politics. Hence, there are many reasons too why some people become candidates. Although there are reasons, it could all be for the wrong reason.

Then there was also an incumbent who contested because he was dropped by his party. Although he is generally viewed as a popular guy, it would have been better if he had been more disciplined as a politician. The ability to work as a team is very important, especially if you are in a party or an alliance of parties.

In the Malay seats, there were also some unhappy faces after they were dropped despite having laid the ground work in preparation to be chosen as the standard bearer of their party. Disappointment and even anger is understandable but then again, isn’t this what politics is all about?

This is the rough and tumble of politics. It is full of uncertainties and the political journey is always treacherous and difficult. Politicians should always be mindful of the adage that ‘a week in politics is a long time’.

Anything can happen. You can prepare for two years to be the candidate; out of the blue, someone can be parachuted in from nowhere. This will leave you dumbstruck. Only those made of sterner stuff will be able to handle this. Others will fall by the wayside.

It is now clear that people go into politics for a variety of reasons. Some genuinely are in it to serve the people and work towards building a better state and nation for all. Most claim similar goals but sadly, it is always easier said than done.

But the people are looking for leaders, not politicians. I took a hard look at the list of candidates and I have to conclude that many are only politicians, not leaders.

Many enter politics and they become politicians. All they are interested in is to contest a seat and hope to be elected. Most do not have any agenda nor a plan of action on what they want to do once they are elected. To these people, it’s all about getting elected and becoming a YB.

What we are searching for are leaders — people of substance and calibre; people- and action-orientated, people who have vision and are knowledgeable. We need people who are disciplined and have strong moral values, people with unquestionable integrity. These are the qualities of a leader.

So you want to become a YB? Do you possess these hallmarks of a leader? If you think you cannot cope, then stay out of politics.

If you do, don’t be just a politician. Be a leader.

(Comments can reach the writer via [email protected])