Tuesday, August 11

On politics and why it’s such a dirty game


I SELDOM write or express my personal opinion on politics although friends and relatives are aware of my political inclination and where I stand, who I support, the causes I love, and the ones I totally detest and abhor.

After the Feb 26 political upheaval in Malaysia – which to me is our nation’s darkest day since May 13, 1969 – my faith in the democratic tenets and the entire political system has totally changed. It affected my belief that besides its many shortcomings Malaysia is still the best place on earth to be.

It still is, but my faith, my trust and my feelings towards other Malaysians in general, and politicians in particular, has been shattered forever by the proceedings which upturned and overthrew a democratically elected government of the people, by the people; by some crooked wheeling and dealing that had apparently misfired, and betrayal upon betrayal were being played out right before the eyes of the citizenry – the helpless voters and the observers who watched impotently by the wayside.

Politics is in my blood. From a very young age I had looked on, observed, and sometimes was party to uncles who were actively involved in it. The late Ong Kee Hui was my father’s eldest brother, who had in 1959 together with Stephen Yong Kueh Tze, Chan Siaw Hee, Barbara Bey, Yeo Cheng Hoe, Song Thian Cheok, and a handful of others founded Sarawak’s very first political party the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP). I was nine years old and in Primary 4. My other uncle Henry Ong was also involved. My father Kee Bian and his other siblings Kee Chong, Kee Huat, Kee Chin, Kee Pheng, and Jimmy couldn’t get into politics as they were all government civil servants at the time. But they were all politicians at heart!

I remember well the very first Sarawak state elections held for parliamentary seats, which was scheduled for May 10, 1969 but postponed till June 6, 1970 due to the emergency created by the May 13 incident. SUPP won the most votes – 28.8 per cent but only 12 seats out of the total of 48. I could feel and sense the elation and sense of achievement when each and every successful seat was announced, and also the deep disappointment with every failure. At that young age, I recalled that I had said to myself that winning wasn’t everything – it’s what comes after that matters – the horse trading, the bartering, as well as the numerous crossovers and the betrayals.

Things haven’t changed in the last 50 years – they have only gotten worse.

It’s true what they say that in politics there are no permanent enemies and your closest friend can and will betray you without blinking an eye.

Some of my greatest disappointments after the events of Feb 26 had included these (I’m only giving you a very short list, as the long list will need many weeks’ columns!):


  • WHY did the PH government drag its feet and take so long to bring to justice all those who were charged in court and why is it that we all feel that PH was overly lenient and had to bend over backwards to ensure that justice is seen to be done? Now the possibility of delays and even termination of charges are real.
  • WHY didn’t the PH government do more to ensure that most of their promises made in their manifesto are either being legislated, attended to, actively put into motion, or why didn’t they simply tell us what’s possible and what isn’t?
  • WHY did they spend so much time politicking and attending to nonsensical attacks from the Opposition (read Umno-PAS etc) especially on the racial and religious front?
  • WHY did they have or actually didn’t have any effective PR machinery in place, or at least enough cyber-troopers to diffuse the fake news attacks from Umno-PAS – they were badly outnumbered on cyberspace!
  • WHY did they allow internal strife, disloyalty, and dissent between parties and ministries to fester and grow?
  • WHY did they allow the Azmin sex video tape issue to drag on for such a long time without coming to a fair and solid solution, thus making themselves the laughing stock – look who’s laughing now!
  • WHY did they allow an issue like the UEC examination recognition not be dealt with once and for all – were they really that dumb as not to know that for the Chinese voters, education is the most important issue.
  • WHY did it feel like Tun Mahathir was the puppet master of all the ministers and they are only dancing to his tune – having said this there were a handful of good and independent minded-ministers.
  • WHY didn’t they pay special attention to Sarawak knowing well that one fine day, the state’s 18 seats can be a saviour in any coup bid – all that they had needed was to make us feel part of the family, there should have been some give and take, but the arrogance and the feeling of being slighted and side-lined had finally made the difference in those final hours – it’s not that GPS preferred PAS to DAP as one over the hill fella put it, but it was DAP being too tough-talking, arrogant, and rude so often that had nailed this coffin.

I must also admit that I have been a strong supporter of PKR – as I do believe in the ideals the party stands for – its multiracial outlook, the persecution handed to Anwar Ibrahim, and I believed in the two main Sarawak PKR leaders – Baru Bian and See Chee How. I was shocked, angry, and extremely disheartened by what Baru did; as for the other two fellas – Willie Mongin and Ali Biju – I couldn’t care less what they do next. It looks like my uncle’s party, SUPP, the very first political party that I had supported as a 13-year-old will now have my vote. After all Dr Sim Kui Hian is a very hardworking, trustworthy man, and also a good friend.

As we stand at the crossroads, I can only hope and pray that whatever comes next and whoever eventually controls the new government, all that we want, and I’m sure that I speak for everyone here, is that we are governed by leaders with a fair sense of justice, are straightforward and honest, hardworking and truthful, believers in God or an almighty one; and be able to steer our nation to greater heights as we continue to live our lives in peace with good governance and a lot less politicking especially of the religious and racial kind.

You can be Muhyiddin, you can be Anwar, Azmin, Mahathir, or Hisham, just do your job, stop the scheming, bickering, and most of all be the leader that you are supposed to be.

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