Jeffrey Kitingan: Trapping Himself into a Corner

Jeffrey's recent comment about Najib at least granting East Malaysia more cabinet posts than any other PM (though he criticised him for not creating an East Malaysian deputy PM post) continues to highlight his inherent weakness with regard to Sabah autonomy (and I guess Sarawak by implication).

This is a man who seems to live by simple principles, which in itself is no bad thing should these principles be holistic and encompassing of the effective ideals of autonomy. But in his case, I'd say he is falling flat here. Let's look at some of his weaknesses.

First, he is claims that Sabah and Sarawak should be led by locals. That locals should be masters of their own destiny. Now who on earth can possibly stringently oppose such a view? We would all like grassroots representation, no matter where we are. But his is an absolutely simplistic view by the looks of it. In a way, he wants local leadership because he thinks locals care more and are less likely to cheat their own people. But then he goes  on to say he prefers Taib Mahmud to lead Sarawak relative to a West Malaysian. Let's be clear and unambiguous here-Jeffrey Kitingan, defender of the rights of Sabahans (and indirectly Sarawakians) believes that Taib Mahmud, the biggest crook the Malaysian nation has ever seen, the man who has marginalised the Dayaks and Penans and sold their rights (particularly their land rights) to the highest bidder, is a much better choice to lead Sarawakians then say Lim Guan Eng!!! Let us not mince words here. Jeffrey has serious problems removing theoretical niceties from sad realities. His assumption that local leaders care more for their people is clouded by his naïveté of a certain 'kinship' set of beliefs when one leader of a certain kin will always represent their own people and never take advantage of them. Grow up Jeffrey. Get real. Look at Penang today. Led by a man born in Johore and later resident of Melaka. Lim Guan Eng has made Penang a much better place today despite previously having no ties to the island. Taib Mahmud, on the other hand, has raped and plundered his people's land and riches, whilst helping to keep in power the government that, season in season out has continued to sit on our 20 Points rights. Two further points. One, ask yourself who would you trust to carry out Sabah's rights? Lim Guan Eng or any of today's elected Sabah parliamentarians, bar Jeffrey himself? Two, most of Sarawak's 18 points rights remain intact, and in that time it has been ruled by Sarawakians without too much external pressure from Putrajaya since Kalong Ningkon was overthrown ( if anything, Kuching is the one that helps Putrajaya these days). Have these Sarawak leaders done well for their people? It is about effective leadership, not about where these leaders are from. I'll take a good West Malaysian to lead Sabah compared to a Sabah clown, or a leader beholden to Putrajaya. Take the parochial glasses off Jeffrey.

Second, he thinks 'Parti Malaya' should leave East Malaysia alone. However, they have every legal right to be here, and indeed, they have won seats voted in by locals. DAP and PKR have won seats in East Malaysia despite electoral cheating. Let's not even start with UMNO in Sabah. The locals have told you that they accept them. You may not like it, and theoretically I do not either, but I welcome the competition. Local parties with no competition from leaner, meaner parties from across the South China Sea would have it easy and their leaders would just enjoy their spoils of war (see Taib Mahmud above, though now he has competition). But now local parties must compete with them. Let's see how that works out. Already we have seen SUPP all but annihilated in Sarawak, and SAPP get taken to the cleaners in Sabah. Without BN's banners and phantom voters on the east coast of Sabah, LDP would have disappeared as well. But Jeffrey and Yong Teck Lee think they should be 'protected'. If we use business analogy in politics, then 'profitability' is defined by the ability to close the deal. Seats won tell us that PKR and DAP have maximised their profits vis-a-vis local parties bar PBB and PRS. Local parties are great marketeers, and many enjoy watching their  'advertisements', but they always end up buying their goods online, at the DAP and PKR online stores. This competition is good. Don't tell us not to vote for Parti Malaya because they will not do this or not do that while you will do this or that. Not when they have credibility in standing up to BN. Like it or not, you need to use the resources and expertise they have. Join forces and get rid of the biggest obstacle to our rights, which is BN. This brings me nicely to point 3.

Jeffrey thinks all Parti Malaya are the same. This is his greatest mental block. Anyone who thinks DAP and UMNO are one and the same with regard to their lack of concern for our rights is a fool. And I do not use the term 'fool' likely as I have great regard for Jeffrey. He is a man I respect immensely. But this is a view I hold strongly. He thinks Taib Mahmud's PBB will take better care of Sarawakian rights then Lim Guan Eng. Whatever takes your fancy mate. The only reason PBB and Taib Mahmud have fought to maintain Sarawak's rights is to ensure they can continue to plunder its resources without competition from West Malaysians. PBB, PRS, PBS (sadly, for this was once a great party), UPKO, PBRS, SUPP, LDP (not to mention SAPP's many years within the BN camp) are a greater threat to our rights than DAP (note I never mentioned PKR. Anwar would sell our rights in a second for political expediency). These parties may care about our rights but PBB aside they are part of an UMNO+ coalition. They are there to eat the rice that fell of the UMNO table. All they aim do within the system is to help the people where and when it is not against UMNO's interest. In return their leaders get some posts and are fed more morsels in return for telling their people that they are being represented. No, Jeffrey, not all Parti Malaya are the same. Don't judge by geography. Judge by character, judge by record, judge by actions.

Finally, Jeffrey seems to think all these cabinet posts are good for East Malaysia (I am putting words in his mouth here). What, like in 2008? How did that work out for us? Cabotage policy gone? 20 Points back on the agenda? Borneonisation of the public service accelerated? Yeah right....these posts have gone to reward BN MP's with power and prestige. It is not to help us, but to perpetuate UMNO's rule. These ministers may well have good intentions, but how many will quit when they fail to get our rights? ZERO!!!  Only Zaid Ibrahim (another West Malaysian of integrity by the way, better suited to represent Sarawakians than Taib Mahmud) has in recent years had the guts to stand up to he UMNO machinery and quit the cabinet. No Jeffrey, these posts don't help us one bit. They merely help keep BN in power while they continue to rip us off.

Jeffrey seems to think that he can get concessions from BN if he plays his cards right. He thinks that the opposition are no different from BN. He is dead wrong. PR is far from perfect, but they are not part of a system that has marginalised us. They have indeed promised us far more than the BN does. The cabotage policy will be reviewed seriously, we will get our 20% royalty, Borneonisation. Will they lie when they get in power? Maybe, but only one way to find out methinks. Time for Jeffrey to realise he is in danger of becoming irrelevant. His talk of our rights have been adopted by others. His monopoly has been broken. He must recognise also that the people who are fighting for our rights have options, and part of that option is voting for Parti Malaya. Time to wake up Jeffrey. Time to recalibrate. Time to stop looking at theoretical niceties such as assuming that local leaders are better, or that a higher number of ministerial posts prove our rights are being advanced. Time to be less parochial to get our rights because while we must lead it, the truth is we can't just do it by our own, not when many in West Malaysia are wiling to help us get to the holy grail if we help them throw BN out of the levers of power.


  1. sherzali asli4:57 pm

    OK it seems to me that once upon a time you placed Jeffrey on a quasi-pedestal for whatever reasons (pls enlighten me on this) but as far as im concerned, and ive mentioned this before, he sold his soul many many years ago for obvious self-serving agendas... im surprised that you spent so much time writing about jeff's parochialism and irrelevancy when the reality is his reverted back to his self-serving ways again (at least his consistent)...does he genuinely give a shit about all the things you mentioned in ur essay bout our autonomy and etc? I gotta question it by virtue of the fact that his nv made any meaningful contribution to sabah(correct me on this if im wrong)and has happily reaped the benefits of his time with BN...plus, STARR not teaming up with PR is simply the result of failed negotiations, as u stated b4, its as much Anwars fault as it is jeffy boy..however i confess that my comment is based on very limited knowledge on east malaysian politics (after all im a by-product of our education system), so feel free to to put me in my place boss.

  2. Actually, only till recently have I had much respect for him because like most, I considered him as the king of kataks. But the more I think about it, the more I accept his reasoning that he may have been jumping around, but never did he shut up about Sabahan's rights. I seriously question his political nouse. I think he is too naive for his own good, or maybe he thinks he is smarter than others whilst evidence suggests otherwise.

    I'm not sure what self-serving agenda you think Jeffrey sold his soul for though. No government post, no public or quasi-public service posting either. No govt contracts. All that he got when big brother was CM. Then again, if rumours are true, his time at Yayasan Sabah means he will never have to earn his keep ever again, so maybe he is beyond being financially induced.

    He went to ISA fighting for our rights even when Pairin was telling him to cool it. He came out and thought it was time to join the system and reform it from within. His constant jumping around has been advertised as being caused by him always wanting to be the boss, but equally plausible it may be because he wants to ensure the Sabah agenda does not get marginalised. Look at all the KDM parties these days talking about these issues just before elections, and now nothing. His time in PKR showed him Anwar cares nothing for Sabahans. So finally he decided to go it alone.

    His one great contribution is to never stop talking about our rights. I suspect we will miss him very much when he is gone. History will probably judge him well though he will probably die a very bitter man. His other significant contribution I think anyway, lies in the amount of votes PR got in Sabah. It was he who got the ball rolling talking about our rights-all PR had to do was link it with them gaining office in Putrajaya and voila, he does all the donkey work and they pick up the votes. Which is partially his fault anyway for not doing a deal with them.