Saturday, April 03, 2010
'It's time to 'tukar baju' and kick out BN'
Newly-minted opposition politician Kalakau Untol is bent on helping the Kadazan Dusun and Murut (KDM) communities of Sabah to 'tukar baju' (change shirt) in the next general election. Kalakau, the United Sabah Dusun Association (Usda) president, said he was confident the indigenous community, comprising more than 30 ethnic groups, other natives and the Chinese communities could topple the BN government.
"They have booted out four Sabah state governments before," he said. “Tukar Baju was our battle cry. We ousted the Alliance-led Usno, Parti Berjaya, Barisan Nasional and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) state governments,” he told FMT in an exclusive interview recently.
Kalakau, a former state deputy labour minister, ditched BN last month to join PKR and declared that he would be working hand-in-glove with Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and other KDM leaders.
He also said he would ensure that the community which formed the majority of the state’s population would vote for Pakatan Rakyat in the next general election.
He said he expected several KDM leaders now holding important posts in the BN government, both at state and federal levels, to leave the coalition for Pakatan Rakyat.
Kalakau said he quit BN as he could no longer tolerate a life of being 'a great pretender.'
"What the BN was offering and had given out thus far was just window-dressing, but the people are politically matured now and know what is going on around them," he said.
Until he left BN, Kalakau was chairman of a state government-owned money making company and a director of several government subsidiaries companies.
"The last straw was when a university student approached me and asked if I believed in all the high praises I had heaped on the BN government during a speech I made.
"She asked me if I really meant what I said about the present government," said Kakakau.
"I was floored. It was awakening. Never in my life did it occur to me that I had been praising the government without justification.
"After a meeting with my supporters, a month later I decided to quit BN," he added.
“I travelled to far flung villages in Sabah and the response and support for PKR from the KDM was overwhelming. (It was the same when) I was in Kota Marudu, Kudat recently."
Sabah, Sarawak taken for granted by BN
The Dusun leader said the general election would the be best avenue for all Malaysians, not only for the people of Sabah 'to put on new clothes.'
"If we want to change the policy of the nation, it can only be done if you change and form a new federal government."
He said if Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had tagged Sabah and Sarawak as BN's fixed deposit, Pakatan Rakyat could also rightfully lay similar claim to these two states.
Kalakau said the opposition could have won in the last general election if there had been a better understanding among the parties, particularly between PKR and DAP.
According to him, in all the constituencies where both PKR and DAP fielded candidates, BN emerged the victor by a slim majority of votes.
In the election, the state constituencies of Kepayan, Luyang, Inanam and Likas showed that the votes garnered by DAP and PKR were more than the votes polled by BN.
"The people of Sabah and Sarawak are aware of this and will ensure that their support will be for Pakatan Rakyat in the coming general election.
"These two states have been taken for granted by BN for too long. We in Sabah have changed the state government four times … it is not an impossible task," said Kalakau.
On his working relationship with other Sabah PKR leaders, he said he is a friend to all. Whenever he travelled, PKR leaders whether KDM or Muslims are always with him.
He said he was overwhelmed by the support for him when he was invited as a guest speaker at a gathering organised by the PKR Selangor at Stadium Malawati Shah Alam recently.
"I was relatively new in PKR but I was accepted as one of them. This is something new to me."
Made entry into politics in the 70s
Kalakau stepped into politics by forming the United Sabah Action Party (Usap) in early 1970s during Tun Musthapha's Usno-led Alliance state government.
Usap acted as an opposition party and was dissolved when he joined Pekamas in 1974, heading the Tuaran Division.
Pekamas failed to match the might of Usno so Kalakau formed another party called United Sabah Assembly Party (Pusaka) in 1977. He was made its deputy secretatry general.
Pusaka also closed shop and Kalakau joined Parti Berjaya in 1978. He joined Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) in 1985 and was a political secretary to then deputy Chief Minister (late) Mark Koding.
He did not last long in PBS and five years later in 1989 he resigned and formed Angkatan Keadilan Rakyat Sabagh (Akar) with Koding.
In 1994, after the PBS governmeng was toppled by BN, Kalakau joined forces with current federal minister Bernard Dompok to form Parti Demokratik Sabah (PDS), now renamed United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Party (Upko).
Kalakau was Tuaran MP as well as state deputy labour minister when PBS was ruling Sabah (1985-1994). In Upko, he was its youth chief for 12 years and was also a senator.