The declaration by KDM Malaysia to enter the political fray as a Barisan Nasional component party puts another nail in the coffin of the KDM unityKOTA KINABALU: Another crack is beginning to appear in the so-called wall of unity surrounding the natives of Sabah with the emergence of a new political party loosely linked to Umno leaders.
That’s bad news for Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the PBS president and Huguan Siou (Paramount Leader) of the Kadazandusun community. Defiance of his leadership is spreading as he enters his final term in power.
The emergence of non-governmental organisation, Kadazan Dusun Murut Malaysia or KDM Malaysia, was always seen as a sign that not all was well in a community that had once united to oust the state Barisan Nasional government from power back in 1985.
The brainchild of John Ambrose, its founder, and current president Peter Anthony, the NGO’s arrival in 2012 was an anathema to the three established indigenous Kadazandusun and Murut community political parties – PBS, Upko and PBRS.
Why a new native community mouthpiece when there were already so many unless they were not satisfying the immediate needs of the people?
The reason, according to the Sabah political pundits, was the perception that the established parties were more concerned with themselves as political entities rather than helping the community.
Ambrose and Anthony themselves had a falling out and the latter took over the reins of power. Anthony’s close ties with certain Umno leaders place him in a good position to attract aid to the community via the NGO.
Though he failed to gain traction with the state BN, Anthony managed to gain an inside track on federally funded projects to organize community-based programmes like KDM Malaysia Idol with RM100,000 awaiting the winner of the show modeled on the famed American Idol programme.
It helped raise the profile of the NGO and their ambitions grew in tandem. But critics say that though the majority of the leadership are not politically tainted and as such are more acceptable, they also lack experience and are not in sync with the feelings of the people.
On Saturday night at the KDM Malaysia annual general meeting Anthony formalised the pledge to take the NGO to the next level become one of the Barisan Nasional component parties.
“KDM Malaysia is seen as a strong and vital force in determining the future of the indigenous people in Sabah. And I believe that we will have a stronger voice as a political party,” he told members.
Anthony, who retained the president post uncontested, said he would submit their application together with the resolution to the Registrar of Societies next month.
KDM Malaysia was formerly known as Umno KDM Task force until several quarters within the BN in Sabah complained of the existence of the entity even though Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had endorsed it.
It was registered with the ROS on Sept 8, 2011 and its immediate task then was to assist BN’s candidates in the 13th general elections.
The NGO has gained recognition by helping youths in the community obtain scholarships to pursue their studies in universities in the country.
Candidates have to apply for the educational fund through KDM Malaysia and a directive from the Education Ministry for candidates to send their applications through KDM Malaysia was considered a major achievement by the organisation.
“I am not aware of any other KDM-based organisation being given such trust from the government,” Anthony told Borneo Insider when contacted today.
However the response to KDM Malaysia’s move to become a political entity was cold. PBS secretary general Johnny Mositun who is Deputy Speaker of the Sabah Legislative Assembly said he was not a surprised given the past action of its leaders, especially Anthony.
Criticising the KDM Malaysia president, Mositun pointed out that the organisation had only been only masquerading as an NGO when its real objective was purely political motivated. He added that judging from its programmes so far, it was clear where they are heading.
Mositun said the party was aware that Anthony was always aiming to get into politics.
The cold reception from PBS is understandable given that Pairin is the head of the party and the Huguan Siou of the community. KDM Malaysia’s actions would be seen as an affront to the community’s leader.
Upko, headed by another heavyweight Kadazandusun leader, Bernard Dompok was more circumspect in its response. It’s national information chief Albert Bingkasan said the NGO had every right to chart their own future.
Movement for Change Sabah (APS) president Wilfred Bumburing was more blunt and commented that if the organisation was registered and accepted as a BN component, then it would imply the failure of the KDM based parties in BN in voicing the concerns of the people.
Sabah Umno assistant secretary Masidi Manjun, a Dusun, also tiptoed around the question saying Malaysia was a democratic country and everyone was free to take part in politics.
Opposition assemblymen Roland Chia (PKR-Inanam) and Edwin Bosi (DAP-Kepayan) dismissed the political ramifications and said the NGO had a right to transform into a political entity and contest in general elections. - BI