(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Parliament next week should debate two grave issues thrown up in the Gaya parliamentary by-election – restoration of local government elections and the clean-up of rampant corruption in Sabah.
The degradation of the Gaya parliamentary by-election into a battle over the oppressive and burdensome car parking fees in the Kota Kinabalu city centre and outskirts, displacing the myriad of grave national issues about politics, the economy, democracy, justice and security, to the extent that even the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had to deal with the issue of Kota Kinabalu car parking fees in the by-election, has made a total mockery of parliamentary democracy in Malaysia.
It is most fortunate that there is the Gaya parliamentary by-election which forced the Sabah Barisan Nasional authorities to try to respond to the grievances of the people of Kota Kinabalu over the highest car parking fees in the whole of Malaysia, although the so-called revised rates are totally unsatisfactory and unacceptable. Even more important, the scandal of the imposition in Kota Kinabalu of the highest car parking fees in Malaysia would never have happened if there is an elected local government system or a sensitive and responsive Sabah State Government.
If there is an elected local government system, and the the Kota Kinabalu mayor Datuk Abdul Ghani Rashid had to stand for election, he would be the first City Councillor to be chucked out of office and even lose his deposit!
Alternatively, if there is a responsive elected Sabah State Government system, Datuk Abdul Ghani would have been removed if not sacked as Kota Kinabalu mayor for imposing the oppressive and burdensome car parking fees in the city which is the highest in the country, in utter disregard and contempt of the legitimate protests of the people.
The scandal of the highest car parking fees in Kota Kinabalu highlights another dimension of the political disease in Sabah where the people have become victims and playthings of the eight-year politics of musical chairs of the Barisan Nasional with the introduction of the system of two-year rotation of the Chief Ministership (except for the Kadazandusun community) among ambitious Barisan Nasional leaders.
The politics of musical chairs in Sabah as a result of the irresponsible rotation of the Chief Ministership has also spawned another grave problem in the state which must be urgently addressed by Parliament – Sabah becoming the state with the worst problem of corruption in the country despite the 1994 Barisan Nasional “Sabah Baru” election pledge of zero-corruption by 2,000.
The following cynical comment in the article in the Sunday Star in February last year about the Sabah politics of musical chairs should be the subject of a soul-searching debate in Parliament about public integrity and zero-tolerance of corruption in public life:
“Ask politicians and journalists about the rotation system, and they will jokingly say: ‘One CM took the hills, one gave away the sea, one signed off the valleys and another bet on watery deals.’
“They cannot help but compare what veteran politicians say about the Usno-Berjaya-PBS governments: ‘Usno took the meat of the timber, Berjaya the bones and PBS the crumbs with Barisan looking at leftovers.’”
Everyone in Sabah knows what is meant by the cynical comment that “One CM took the hills, one gave away the sea, one signed off the valleys and another bet on watery deals” except for the Anti-Corruption Agency, which seems to be the only one ignorant about its implications – and MPs must demand to know why the Anti-Corruption Agency in Sabah seems to be even more ineffective and impotent than its counterparts in the other states in the country.
The question is whether the new Member of Parliament for Gaya who will be elected tomorrow will be able to lead a parliamentary debate next week on these two great issues concerning Sabah and Malaysia – or whether he would be completely dumb-founded in having absolutely nothing to say on these two important issues in Sabah.
*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman