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DON'T WRITE OFF UPKO YET: SINDIN


Sindin Rangangon

16 May 2021

One Man's Opinion To begin with, l must admit that my knowledge of politics is so shallow that sometimes l miss the cue and fail to fathom too deep into the intricacies of the political mind game. As such, l often end up looking at both sides of the coin and then seeing all sorts of additional dimensions in the areas of race, culture, religion, power, position, personal vendetta, indiscretions, machiavellianism, etc. Now that the Sabah State GE16 is done and dusted, what lies ahead for UPKO as a result of its dismal and near diappearance performances? At stake is the question of how UPKO and Warisan Plus as the state opposition engage with the present government in Sabah and the PN government in Malaysia to ensure continued progress and development.

It seems that UPKO have entered into a period of transition and uncertainty in Malaysia's race-and-religion- based political parties; whereby before this, UPKO's ideological leanings with BN was the same that have brought them success. Despite their previous successes, we witnessed how UPKO rebranded itself from being a race-based to multiracial party for all Malaysians; and, disassociated itself from BN because of the unprecedented corruption within UMNO that had undermined or compromised so many other political and social institutions in the country. To me, a related more structural explaination for UPKO's dismal performances is the blind supports of Sabahans through the lies and propaganda by GRS Coalition. As a result of this, in Kiulu for instance, the voters rejected DSPWMT, a DCM and UPKO President in favour of DJB of PBS who's now only an Assistant Minister. l'm at a loss for words how the so called leaders ( l hate that word) like TSJP, DDJK and the others could mislead the KDM to vote for BN-UMNO again. I think many people, including myself, wondered: were they " the enemy of the KDM", being "incredibly smart or incredibly stupid'? The fragmantation of the KDM community into various political parties such as PBS, STAR, PBRS, etc. is a strange scenario to contemplate. For the past 22 years Until 1985, Sabah had a largely independent and autonomous government under Stephens, Lo, Mustapha, Fuad and Harris. Then in 1985 came the Kitingans and because of their incompetance leadership, UMNO entered Sabah. By 1994 UMNO controlled Sabah. Of course many were willing to fight to regain Sabah's autonomy but in 2002 PBS betrayed this cause by joining BN again! Thus TS Pairin was made a DCM as a reward.

Once upon a time l was attracted to PBS because l remembered the foreboding words of the 1st Huguan Siou, the late Tun Fuad who said: " We have been cheated and deceived to join Malaysia."


I thought that TSJP as the President and 2nd Huguan Siou of the KDM was chosen by God to liberate Sabah and Sabahans from the shackle and tyranical rule of Malayan leaders, just like Moses in the Book of Exodus. But it was not meant to be. As such, it would not be far-fetched to suggest that much of the current groundswell and antipathy for state nationalism, draw inspiration to what Fuad said. All and sundry know that during the time of BN rule, UMNO had cleverly divided Sabahans, particularly the KDM into various groups, sub-groups, races and political parties. They poured millions of Ringgit to entice Sabahans politicians and as a result Sabahans are fractured, divided and disunited. So, Sabahans can not be a forminable force in the Federation that KL will respect. It was also during that time that the KDM and non- Muslims political power was destroyed by Project IC and the reduction of KDM majority seats. But as with the current Kitingan, the position of DCM was worth to sacrifice the interests and future of Sabah. At this material time, l am looking at the whole scenario with sadness and fear that no matter what we do, we will still be under the control of KL until and unless Sabahans and particularly the KDM are not united.

Now comes the pertinent question: Can the KDM ever be united in a sigle political party again? I don't have the answer to that question, but this potential strength or weakness in unity of the KDM can best be sum up in the failed merger or assimilation of UPKO-PBS-PBRS in 2004. It's an open secret that the late TS Herman Luping as a merger committee chairman tried very hard to merge UPKO (at that time PDS), PBS and PBRS into a single political entity. He worked sincerely hard for the sake of the Momogun's future, thus hoping to demonstrate to KL and the outside world in general that the KDM were able to resolve its own political divisions, and come to a tacit acceptance of its differances. It was almost done, but then DSPWB bolted when he knew that he was to be made SG of the merged - and replaced as Deputy President by TSJKurup. The whole thing then collapsed. You see, in the governance of the State where it matters most, the KDM are all trying to be one up amongst themselves. And so, when it comes to KDM unity it's always the problem of who should be the boss! This is a big hurdle to progress! I recall in 1964, the breach between Stephens' UNKO and Sundang's Pasok Momogun was finally healed, at which point UNKO and Pasok Momogun merged to form a single party - the United Pasok-Momogun Kadazan Organisation (UPKO). The merged UPKO then wrote its new constitution that membership of the party was to be open to all races, including the Chinese. The political consequences of this act were to be enormous and (though indirectly) disastrous.

Hitherto Stephens' party had been in direct competition with Mustapha's for native votes. Now it was to be in competition with the Sabah National Party (SANAP) for Chinese votes." This inability clearly demarcate potential supporters - USNO's refusal to limit itself to Muslims, and UPKO's later woiing of Chinese support - meant that from the beginning the Sabah Alliance was innately unstable and crisis prone, especially when compared with its Malayan counterpart, a model which was, indeed, based on a different political equation. Mustapha, leading the Melayu-Muslims, remained adamantly unwilling to concede the social reality of Kadazan nationalism, or the legitimacy of UPKO's claim to embody it. Leaders of SANAP were incensed (and fell threatned) by UPKO's attraction of liberal Chinese support. USNO and SANAP were drawn together by their common aversion to UPKO, but since the former was most vehemently opposed to UPKO as a "communal" Kadazan party, and the latter feared principally its multi-racial experiments, UPKO had no possible way of modifying itself to please them both, even if it had fell so inclined." With such background of threats and uncertainty, nobody really knows where UPKO is heading to. But since UPKO had been in existance for such a long time, it has a silver lining of longer term benefits arising from the growing resilience as a people. And, if the recent huge number (7,219) new members from Sepanggar who applied to join UPKO is any indication of the party's future, then it's fair to say that although UPKO is down but it's not out - and it's on the rise again. So, don't write off UPKO yet! God Bless UPKO!

Sindin Rangangon

Former PBS Kiulu Division Chief