What Is Important To Sabah Voters?

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad laments that Malaysian voters can be bought. It’s fine to talk when you have billions. But when you are not sure how to put food on the table, money is the first thing in your mind. And RM200 for a vote means your family has at least one more month of food.

Corruption. Abuse of power. Cronyism. Nepotism. Wastage of taxpayers’ money. Democracy. Freedom of speech. Freedom of assembly. Good governance. Transparency. Accountability. Competency. Separation of powers. GDP. GST. 1MDB. MA63. LGBT rights. 20% oil royalty. Federalisation. Autonomy. PATI. Covid-19. Backdoor government. Backdoor Prime Minister. Hudud. RUU355.

Those are the usual causes, slogans or war-cries that Pakatan Harapan and the NGOs, movements, societies and associations aligned to them (BERSIH, Bar Council, etc., included) would use in its attempt to get public support or garner votes.

So, which of these will the Sabah voters consider or give priority to when they go to the polls on Saturday to cast their votes?

I normally use this analogy. You go to the corner shop to pick up your daily newspaper and you see one newspaper with the headlines “100 die in plane crash in Siberia” and another with the headlines “Rape and murder: body found in Kinabalu Park”. 

Do you think these people care about democracy, good governance, transparency, accountability, competency, separation of powers, etc?

If you are a Sabahan, you would probably pick up the newspaper with the headlines “Rape and murder: body found in Kinabalu Park”. And this is because the majority of the people would be more interested in or concerned about events on their doorstep or in their own backyard than something that happened halfway across the world.

Voters in general are selfish and are more concerned about local matters. And this is also true of Malaysian and Sabah voters.

For example, if one party contesting the election says it is going to increase the 6% GST to 20% (like most countries all over the world) so that there would be more money for healthcare, education and welfare, and another party says it is going to abolish the GST altogether (zero GST), which party will get the votes?

Would not a better healthcare, education and welfare system be good for the country? Not if you need to pay 20% GST for it. If you can get that with zero GST then okay. And this is because the benefit is for the whole country, not for you alone. If the benefit is for you alone, then you will support the 20% GST idea.

Whether the GST is 20% or zero means nothing to these people

That is how people think. In short, people are selfish. They will look at it from the angle of “what’s in it for me?” and not “what’s the benefit for the whole country?”. And you will vote based on what benefit it is to you rather than what benefit it is to the whole country.

If your interests and the country’s interests are aligned, then you will think of the country. If not, then your interests come first. Sacrifice is something the other person does for his/her country, not what you do for your country. And paying 20% GST for the good of the country is not a sacrifice you are prepared to make.

It does not matter whether it is in North America, South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, or wherever. The mentality, attitude and priorities of the voters are the same. They vote based on what benefits them, not what benefits others.

This is of major concern to many Sabahans

And this is how Sabahans are going to think when they vote this Saturday. If their house is plagued with floods every few months, this is more important than MA63 or LGBT rights. If they are still landless after 57 years of nationhood since 1963, that is more important than good governance, transparency, accountability, competency and separation of powers.

In short, it is going to be bread-and-butter issues plus personal needs. And different people have different needs. Not every Sabahan is concerned about 1MDB, Chinese schools, Mandarin, Hudud, RUU355 and all those “liberal” issues that concern those who lepak at night in the Republic of Bangsar.

This is a common sight in Sabah

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad laments that Malaysian voters can be bought. It’s fine to talk when you have billions. But when you are not sure how to put food on the table, money is the first thing in your mind. And RM200 for a vote means your family has at least one more month of food.

They say money is the root of all evil. I would say it is more like lack of money is the root of all evil. And currently, compounded by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, money is in very short supply. And if you want my vote, show me the money, Sabahans would say.

By RPK – MALAYSIA TODAY

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