The highly popular ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ television concept has taken a political twist in Sabah.
LAHAD DATU 12/11/2012: Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, the younger brother of Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, once said something about “lucrative positions” in the Cabinet. He was naively confirming what many surmised.
So it is hardly surprising that scores of Sabahans want to be contestants in the upcoming 13th general election and some may even be forgiven for considering a new group as organisers of Sabah’s version of “who wants to be a millionaire” with an election slant.
Days after announcing its formation, the “Sabah Independent Candidates Sponsorship Body” has received 30 applications by wannabe electoral candidates in the upcoming 13th general election.
Co-founder and chairman of the body, Abdul Kadir Tahir who launched the organisation to act like a party to help provide voters not satisfied with the usual field of candidates, a third choice, said he was happy with the surge of interest.
He told reporters here that the applicants were from Pensiangan, Keningau, Pitas, Beaufort and Kuala Penyu as well as one who wants to contest both state and parliamentary constituency seats in an interior district.
He described the response from the interior and west coast areas of the state as “very encouraging” and said a second meeting would be held here soon to decide on the organisation’s committee line-up as well as to screen all the independent applicants seeking their help.
Part of the mechanishm to measure applicants’ suitability for being candidates is their views on eradicating hardcore poverty, reducing crime, corruption and malpractices within the government.
“We want well educated, credible and trustworthy persons to be our independent candidates… we need to know their motives behind offering themselves to be candidates first before we can proceed to the final decision on who will become our candidates,” he said.
Abdul Kadir, an ex-liaison officer to former Silam MP Samsu Baharom Abdul Rahman, said the organisation’s intention is to place its independent candidates in all 60 state and 25 parliamentary constituencies in Sabah, but a final decision would be made after the parliament is dissolved.
‘Emphasis on clean and healthy politics’
According to him, the body was formed to strike a balance between the mighty Barisan National and opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalitions. It will help its candidates by providing “advice to them in upholding the interest of the people”.
“After one-and-a-half years of watching the political situation in our country we feel there is a need to provide a third force in the elections.
“With the emphasis on clean and healthy politics, this body can play its role in assisting the new government rule after the elections,” he said.
Abdul Kadir, who declined to name the people backing his organisation, said the backers believe almost half of the voters in Sabah are still uncertain who they will support, thus giving independent candidates’ a chance.
Like many others, they are skeptical of the country achieving developed nation status by 2020 as envisioned in former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad if political stays quo remains.
But the organisation is also scornful of the opposition’s plan to fund Sabah’s development by increasing the oil royalty it receives from the federal government from the current 5% to 20%.
Abdul Kadir said there must be a clear change in the government’s political and administration system in improving and enhancing its services to the people as many of its programmes had not benefited the targeted groups.
“For examples, in the BR1M (handouts) and (in the award of) PPRT houses, I’ve seen many wearing their gold necklaces, earrings and bracelets who came and collected their BR1M. And many recipients of PPRT housing scheme had renovated their flat lavishly while some rented out and even sold off their units to third parties, so how poor really are these people?”
Indeed, as Abdul Kadir points out, there is little to show for the billions of ringgit spent by the government on poverty eradication as the number of poor and hardcore poor continued to increase over the years.
“Clearly something is wrong here and this is why there is a need for us to come in and interfere … to rectify the parts that had been overlooked by the authorities and to improve the system and make it work for the people truly in need,” he said.