A fifth columnist? No! I am not referring to a writer of columns in newspapers. However, before I get round to the point, just a quick recap about politics.

Politics, a practice which is considered as public service by those who are involved in it and carries with it connotations of noble causes. The perspective of the general populace might be somewhat different.

Some would consider politics as a platform whereby a bunch of self-serving individuals come together to feed off the ‘public’ and turn against each other in a ‘dog eat dog’ environment. Friends one day and enemies the next with backstabbing being a common feature. Colloquially, politics does carry a negative connotation.

Therefore, we have two completely different views that are poles apart. Perhaps the truth is someway in between.

The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power”. It is also defined as “activities aimed at improving someone’s status or increasing power within an organisation”.

In the 1930s, Harold Dwight Lasswell, a leading American political scientist, communications theorist and writer of the book Psychopathology and Politics defined politics as a competition about who gets what, when, and how. Locally here we call it “playing politics”.

However, playing politics can range from the mundane to that having serious consequences through to betrayal. The term ‘fifth column’ comes to mind. A fifth column refers to a group or faction that tries to undermine a region’s harmony by any means at their disposal, basically for the sake of power.

Encyclopaedia Britannica states that this term is credited to Emilio Mola Vidal, a Nationalist general during the Spanish Civil War. It states, “as four of his army columns moved on Madrid, the general referred to his militant supporters within the capital as his “fifth column,” with the intention of undermining the loyalist government from within.

A key technique of a fifth column is further stated as the infiltration of supporters into the system of government. From here, the fifth-column activists exploit the fears of people by spreading rumours and misinformation.

Anywhere, so it seems that as our 12th state election approaches the more intense and fervent the statements from political parties wanting to grasp power from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).

We have Pakatan Harapan Sarawak (PH) desperately trying to make themselves relevant by their continuous attempts to undermine the progress of Sarawak and sowing seeds of doubts in the minds of Sarawakians.

One of their strategies is to create the perception in the minds of Sarawakians that they have lost out on progress, when in fact it is their Malayan masters who have dispossessed Sarawakians of their rights, revenues, resources and therefore progress. The ‘finger-pointing’ approach of PH is to divert attention away from their own catastrophic failure.

PH has consistently tried to convince us that the deeds of the Sarawak government have been negative. However, these are all done in the context of their attempts to appease their political masters in Malaya. Power at any cost, even if it means denying Sarawakians their just rights and resources.

We also have another party aspiring to get into power. Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) formerly known as United People’s Party, a breakaway faction from Sarawak United People’s Party. It is generally agreed the party was formed due to personal political ambitions.

The PSB leadership last year declared they “will shake up the political landscape of Sarawak in the upcoming state election”. This was followed up in a recent statement that they will contest in as many winnable seats as possible in the coming state election.

Perhaps our chief minister had an intuition of things to come and therefore referred to certain groups as ‘termites’ in a speech last year. Termites, like the fifth columnists, eat away at structures from within.

PSB had previously only made claims to constituencies allocated to SUPP. They have now declared an intention to compete even in PBB-held seats. Then again, there might be hidden hands behind PSB.

The potential to disrupt the winnability of some GPS candidates is real. This could allow PH candidates to win in three-corner fights. If successful, the consequences could be dire not just for GPS, but more importantly for Sarawak.

This is especially true if PH is allowed to control our DUN. Allowing a Malayan-controlled puppet Sarawak PH government would cause irreversible harm to Sarawakians and their future. This would allow Malaya to bleed even more revenue and resources from Sarawak.

Sabotage and disinformation are all tools that will be used by fifth columnists to undermine a peaceful and stable Sarawak. Awareness and a knowledgeable outlook can help us discern between those genuinely wanting to make Sarawak better and those who have other hidden agendas.

No outsiders or fifth columnists should be allowed to split or divide us. If you choose wisely, you will ensure the welfare of Sarawakians at all levels of society always comes first.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.