The Kajang Gambit: A view from Sabah

By Zainnal Ajamain

zainal1Quest for power is the driving force of history always has been and always will be.  Those who failed to recognize this principle are not spared in the grand chess game rather they are moved and manipulated by forces they do not understand.  From the perspective of those who dominated the board, it is obviously preferable to have a population of ignorant pawns than it is to have an array of opponents who is capable of mounting an effective resistance.  To this end it has always be in the interest of the ruling class to cultivate the illusion which will obscure the nature of the game.

We see the move into Kajang as one of this game, we see the move as the Kajang Gambit – the endgame is obviously the control of Malaysia’s population for political power and it has nothing to do with the people’s welfare or their future.  On each side of this cleavage there exist reasons for the Kajang Gambit.

As the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib is under sieged.  He faced constant torment by the opposition, the growing dissent, discontentment and disenchantment of the people in Sabah and Sarawak, the volatile and uncertain global politico-economic mood swings, mounting rebellion from within his party and party coalition members.  However, these problems are all mere distractions compared to the counter move attempted by his former Mentor and the UMNO Northern factions – it threatens his position as the Prime Minister of this country.Queen Gambit

As head of the Opposition, PAKATAN need to have the stamina to persevere in the next four years otherwise their dream for PUTRAJAYA will remain just a dream.  Political stamina requires constant and continuous funding, limited funds mean their movements will also be severally limited or curtailed.  They may have funds coming from Kelantan and Penang but the mother lode is in Selangor unfortunately these funds are coming in trickles instead of gushing out, due perhaps to the tightfisted, frugality and prudence of the present Menteri Besar.

The solution for all these issues on both sides of the political divide is to work together – from the government side this move is called National Reconciliation Plan and from the Opposition side it is called the National Consensus Plan – it all amount to the same thing a TRUCE.  The biggest issue is in what form will this truce take? Is it just going to be an understanding between Najib and Anwar? Or is the Kajang Gambit is actually the way for Anwar and gang to be readmitted into UMNO – the same way as the Semangat 46 members.  The only difference is that Semangat 46 did not have any State as a chip to bargain with, compared to Anwar having Selangor to put on the table.  He however cannot achieve this with Khalid Ibrahim still in the picture.  Anwar must be in Selangor in order to take advantage of this bargain and Khalid Ibrahim must be replaced.  The recent bouts between Khalid Ibrahim and Azmin Ali are perhaps a precursor to what will happen next.

Selangor is a core state that UMNO designed for its political self-esteem and it is a state that UMNO cannot do without.  Therefore there is no need for Kajang IF the only reason is for a truce so that all efforts can now be focused to rebuilding the country’s economy.  Both sides of the political divide can work together with or without Kajang and can still serve the country.  Therefore there should be more to the Kajang Gambit than simply a political truce.

The biggest reason for Kajang is to make way for Anwar and the Malays in PKR to rejoin UMNO.  Anwar is using Selangor is the sweetener where any UMNO members will have no second thoughts to support such an offering, unless they are too deep with UMNO’s Northern faction.  In this way, with Anwar supporting Najib from within UMNO, will keep the UMNO’s Northern factions at bay.  Najib will contain the race and religious issues within UMNO; Najib will strengthen the government’s power in Parliament and concentrate on exploiting the commodities from periphery states for the economic benefit of the center which he believes will resolve the difficulty in getting funds for his Transformation Programs.

After consolidating his power in UMNO, at least 3 states will be in their sights Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak.  It appears that the present Exco in Kelantan is more inclined to work with PUTRAJAYA therefore Kelantan is NOT going to pose as a major issue to Najib.  Sabah has a gutless Chief Minister who if not towing the party line will be replaced in a blink of an eye and the rest of the Barisan Nasional component parties in Sabah will acquiesce when the “Chief Minister” rotation is reintroduced.  Sarawak will be the only odd man out – how will Taib play the game, take advantage of it when he is pressured from all sides.

Zainnal Ajamain is an economist by profession, graduating with a Masters degree from the University of East Anglia. He has held several high ranking civil service positions in government and government think tanks and has worked as a university lecturer, senior researcher, stockbroker, and economist and published several papers in international media journals. He was the co-author behind the Sabah Government’s vision for development and progress the HALATUJU which later became the Sabah Development Corridor and created the first Offshore Islamic Fund in Labuan. He also held the position of Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems at the University Malaysia Sabah.  He was the Co-Founder of the United Borneo Front (UBF) and a passionate activist to abolish the Cabotage Policy and the development of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippine East Asia Growth Area or in short BIMP-EAGA.  He is also the Secretary General of a newly formed political party in Sabah.


About sifusiber
A husband & a father who wants his children to have a better future

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