Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.

–Thomas Jefferson, third US president

The polling booths opened to much anticipation.

However, by the end of the evening, the much-vaunted Warisan Plus landslide did not materialise.

I am, of course, referring to the results of the hotly contested 16th Sabah elections last Saturday.

A netizen summarised it well, “The unthinkable has happened”, alluding to the fact that Sabah would remain under the strong grip of Malayan parties.

The expected landslide victory for Warisan Plus only translated to 32 seats.

GRS, on the other hand, garnered 38 seats with the three independents aligning themselves to them, giving them a total of 41 seats.

Despite the multitude of candidates in each constituency, it was a straight fight between Warisan Plus and GRS.

This 41-32 gap of eight seats, given the nature of Sabah politics, hardly translates to a stable state government.

The glossy Warisan campaign with catchy slogans and videos with ‘Unity’ at its core did garner Warisan 29 seats but not the much-touted 40 plus seats.

In fact, its message has much in common to GPS in Sarawak.

The electorate snubbed the other parties. The voters also disregarded all 73 candidates from Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS).  

In addition to this, out of a total of 447 candidates vying for the 73 seats, 275 each lost their RM5,000 deposit after failing to secure one eighth or 12.5 percent of the total votes counted.

This might serve as an early warning to the non-mainstream parties in Sarawak.

The narrow issues of MA63, Sarawak and oil rights might not get them much traction and therefore, electoral support.

Therefore, what went right or wrong?  This depends which side of the current political divide you are standing on.

One issue was Mohamaddin Ketapi, of Warisan, a serial ‘foot in mouth’ politician and his uncalled-for remark that the Lahad Datu incursion was wayang, thereby hurting the sentiments of the armed forces and police whose comrades were killed by militants from the Philippines.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal also appears to have failed to allay the fears of the Kadazan Dusun Murut (KDM) community when it came to ‘PTI’ (pendatang tanpa izin) migrants.

The last-minute swing away from Warisan is also speculated to be attributed to alleged financial inducements in rural areas.

If this is true, some voters have also joined the ranks of kataks. So sama-sama with the elected representatives.

The immediate impact at the national level of the GRS victory has been to strengthen Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin who, since March 2020, has been hanging on with a two-seat majority in a 222-seat parliament.

The prime minister’s popularity is due to his management of the Covid-19 pandemic and his management of our economy during the movement control order (MCO) seems to have had a larger than projected impact in Sabah.

This will also possibly strengthen his hand in dealing with Umno, especially related to the division of seats and political leadership going into GE15.

The results of last Saturday’s 16th Sabah election will not have any direct effect in Sarawak or its upcoming election. However, there are some learning points.

One such point is DAP. It stood in Sabah under the Warisan logo and won six out of the seven seats.

How is this possible if DAP was said to be useless while it was in power for 22 months? Surely, it ought to have been rejected due to its inability to deliver on its promises.

This is an important point to note in the upcoming Sarawak election.

It is widely agreed that DAP more or less tore up its Buku Harapan Manifesto when it came to its much-publicised promises on Sarawak rights and development.

The question arises if these broken promises will result in loss of seats here.

Well, if what happened in Sabah is anything to go by, better not hold your breath and make such assumptions.

You know what they say about the word ‘assume’ – make an ‘ass’ of ‘u’ and ‘me’. 

Moving on, there has been much moralising about political kataks over the last few months.

However, in the Sabah polls, it seems the voters do not really mind them. Even the ‘King of Kataks’ Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan was voted back in.

So has all the derogatory talk about them become merely academic and therefore mute? 

Looks like they are here to stay and are actually accepted — so another new normal in politics.

At the time of writing this, both Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin of Barisan Nasional (BN) and Datuk Seri  Hajiji Mohd Noor of Perikatan Nasional (PN) are still waiting for Governor Tun  Juhar  Mahiruddin to call either one to form the next government.

Some are also wondering if the delay is to allow Shafie Apdul time to attract more elected representatives to allow him to form the government.

Amid rumours and speculations, the game continues … and perhaps constant changes in the governance of Sabah.

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