Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Tears of a Kadazan BN backbencher

Tears of a Kadazan BN backbencher

Author / Source : Joe Leong / The Ant Daily

Mojigoh: What Sabahans want is to look back at the Malaysia Agreement signed when the nation was formed.


A Sarawakian, Joseph Leong Sai Ho has lived and worked in Sabah since 1966. His dream and mission is that the voices of Borneo People can be widely spread. This was an article recently published in The Ant Daily. The article vividly reflect the voices of the people of Sabah.

In Malaysia's far-east state of Sabah lives a Kadazan elected representative from a Barisan Nasional (BN) component who wants to do a good job, stand tall and be a true voice of the people.

As a result, he gets into trouble, told to quit and join the opposition.

Get this right, the life of a wakil rakyat is not as fine and dandy as it appears on the surface. In reality, it is more like walking on a tight rope, particularly for a backbencher from a comparatively small component party of the ruling BN coalition.

The MP who has felt the stress, difficulties and pains of such a struggle is Datuk Dr Marcus Mojigoh, serving his third term for Putatan. He confesses he is getting mentally and physically tired of it and is seriously entertaining the notion of throwing in the towels.

Recently, after questioning the state authorities for its action to ban a national DAP leader Teresa Kok into Sabah, he was told by no less than the Deputy Chief Minister cum Agriculture Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin that he (Mojigoh) should resign and join the opposition since he questioned the government’s policies.

Mojigoh is no small fly in United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko), being its vice-president as well as treasurer-general and is chairman of the Malaysian Cocoa Board and Saham Sabah Berhad. He is also currently president of the Asia-Pacific Senate of the Junior Chamber International (JCI).

Despite his busy schedule and before rushing off again to Kuala Lumpur to attend Parliament, I managed to “yum cha” with him and to ask him what motivates him to question government's decisions when other BN leaders usually prefer to keep quiet.

“Firstly, as BN leaders we have to tow the line, correct? But remember that I am a wakil rakyat, as such I am the voice of the people, the eye of the people, the ear of the people and you must also be the brain of the people,” he said in reply.

“If you are not in that category, you are not fit to be a wakil rakyat.

"Some people think it is glamour to be an elected representattive. What, do you think that we attend Parliament just to warm the seat, to kow tow here kow tow there?

"Is it the kind of wakil rakyat people want?” he asked me.

Mojigoh said those days were over. Now, people are ever watchful on what elected representatives are saying and doing.

“Peope are observing your movement, whether you are really representing them. And we have to ask ourselves too, whether we are engaging with the people, listening to them and saying what they want us to say.”

Explaining why, for instance, he had questioned the banning of Teresa Kok, Mojigoh said this was because the people had asked him to.

“I made a public statement that I was not scared of Teresa Kok and ask why the state authority was scared of her? That was my question. She may be dangerous politically but the young generation today does not think that way now.”

In his view, the political environment in Malaysia has now changed from that of yesteryears.

Mojigoh further told me, “She is a member of parliament of Malaysia, she has the right to come over here to listen to the people's voice. I doubt she comes here to destroy the harmony of Sabahans.”

“She come here to see how we live in harmony in Sabah. If she comes here to bring a bad culture from Malaya, then we as members of parliament from Sabah is duty bound to whack her. As of now and lately, I have not heard or seen that she is that dangerous.”

Another occasion when Mojigoh spoke out was when nine Sabahans were arrested and detained by the police at a Sunday tamu in Tuaran allegedly seeking signatures in support for the Sabah Sarawak Keluar Malaysia (SSKM) campaign.

According to him, the reason why the SSKM issue came up was because the people in these two Borneo states felt mistreated.


He asked, “Where else can they their voice out such issues. Since the wakil rakyat seems ineffective to voice it out. And you know what will happen to the wakil rakyat if he were to voice out? You know what could happen?”

He said following the arrest of the group in Tuaran the people had formed the opinion that this country has become a police state.

“I have never heard that the government is trying to engage and listen to them, appease them. To me, they just want to be heard. By inviting them to lunch and talk to them, I think 30 per cent of their demand would have been solved right away.”

Mojigoh believes that what Sabahans want is to look back at the Malaysia Agreement signed when the nation was formed.

He referred to the Keningau Oath Stone, unveiled on August 31, 1964, the first anniversary of Malaysia's formation, on which the Malaysian government had given a guarantee that the natives in Sabah would enjoy freedom of religion in the new Malaysian Federation and that the state government would have authority over land in the state and that native customs and traditions would be preserved.

“If the federal government acknowledges that oath and keeps it, then the DAP would no longer politicise it to their benefit. Then, the kampung people would see that the BN would live for ever and ever,” Mojigoh remarked.

He said Sabahans also have the perception that everything seems to be under KL control.

“I tend to agree to that because almost all decisions are from KL. Opportunities in business have to be referred to KL, projects are controlled by them, funds to develop the state are controlled by them too. What has happened to the agreement signed when we formed the nation called Malaysia?”

After all these years in the ruling coalition, shouldn't he be accustomed with the BN culture already. Why does he start criticising the government now?

He says this is because the present situation hurts. The issue of religion, for instance. Such issues never cropped up in the past.

“Why only now? Who is responsible? Why the government does not seem to net in these real perpetrators? Development is one thing, but sensitivities of the rakyat must be addressed,” he stresses.

He also gave the example of the alleged conversion of the teenage student at a school hostel in Kinarut and the statement by a federal minister blaming the Chinese for price increase of goods.

He had earlier announced this would be his final term as Putatan MP and has no desire to stand in the next general election (GE14). I asked him if he was really serious about quitting.

“I am mentally, physically tired. When you want things to happen it does not. When you want things done, it is not done. We want the power-sharing concept to be carried out fairly. I come from a small party. If we talk a bit, they threatened you. If you are not happy, they say get out! So, you get out!”

It cannot be any clearer. Mojigoh is one MP who is suffering from an acute case of frustrations and disappointments; knowing what could and should be done by the BN government but is ineffective as a government backbencher.

I looked at him as he sat across the table before me. I did not see any tears. But it is as clear as daylight that he is not a happy man. No doubt he still has a lot of fight in him but he knows it is a losing battle against big brother Umno in Sabah who calls the shot.

Like many in BN who has suffered silently, he has shed many tears, tears away from the public eye. Lately, we hear news of a figurine of the Virgin Mary in a kampung in Penampang, the heartland of the Kadazans in Sabah, shedding tears.

Could this be a sign that even the heavens could see the tears of these natives and feel the sorrow and pains that they have to bear?

I wonder!

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