By middle of last year, the Strategic Evaluation and Advancement Team (SEAT) at ABU had come up with its plan to take UMNO / BN out of Putrajaya at the 13th GE.
First, there had to be 222 straight contests in all the parliamentary constituencies. Never mind if BN threw in independent candidates. Opposition parties had to work it so that they only offered one candidate.
Next, win the media war in the Malay heartlands.
Finally, prevent UMNO / BN cheating by the use of foreigners to vote on polling day.
ABU would work the second and third.
The first was in the hands of the opposition party leaders.
By October, we had received the latest copy of the electoral roll, and the work to identify the constituencies we would target kicked in.
The following had to be taken into account.
I could not get into Sabah and Sarawak and by then, I could no longer afford to keep the paid operatives there.
So a decision was taken to focus our main efforts in Malaya and extend whatever help we could to our like-minded friends in Sabah and Sarawak.
Together with our allies in ABU, we would target 62 parliamentary seats in Malaya.
I was given one specific seat to concentrate on, and I would probably have to be located there immediately after nomination day : Labuan.
From January until September, last year, I made numerous trips to Labuan to meet leaders from Sabah, from SAPP and STAR, both to get information as well as to share what information I was getting on the ground there.
Information I was getting was that the mood for change was so strong but Sabahans felt great scepticism whether the opposition could unite to so as to take on BN in straight fights in all 25 parliamentary seats.
And if they did not unite, then BN would romp home again.
I took this to the Sabah leaders, and urged them that this time, they had to show themselves to be leaders of the people of Sabah, and not just party leaders, that they had to put party interests aside and put the interest of the people first before all else.
I shared with them that based on our intelligence gathering, if we put up a united front against BN in GE13, and did all that needed to be done, we were good for 121 parliamentary seats.
8 from Sarawak, 14 from Sabah, and 99 from Malaya.
Back here in Malaya, we tried to take the same message to Pakatan leaders who would give us the time of day.
This time, please, be leaders of the people, and not just your parties.
After nomination day in April, I wrote this here :
“A bad case of rhinitis in the early hours of Saturday morning kept me from going to the nomination centre to lend support to Arul’s candidacy in Semenyih.
Later that day, tracking all the nominations and seeing so many multi-cornered fights, especially in Sabah, only served to remind me again why I am pro-rakyat, and not pro the opposition parties.
Late Saturday night, sat with the Strategic Evaluation and Advancement Team (SEAT) to analyse the multi-cornered seats and to re-evaluate ABU positions.
Got back home early Sunday morning and continued to re-visit our strategies”.
Phone calls to several contacts in Sabah left a sense that Sabah was now almost a lost cause.
With so many multi-cornered contests, coupled with the paranoia that BN could ascertain how people voted and the sense of many on the ground that this was now a done deal for BN, many, from the civil service, pensioners, and small time contractors who were dependent on small jobs from BN and who were ready to vote for change, would now be driven to again vote for BN.
SEAT decided to expand the 62 seats in Malaya to 116.
This meant that we now had to spread ourselves really thin.
The ABU Eagles walkabout program, which had been so effectively carried out in several constituencies earlier, and which was to go into full swing after nomination day, had to be scrapped and many of the volunteers now deployed to transport material to those 116 constituencies, leaving the material to be distributed by the campaign team of candidates.
The change in strategy also meant that I could not make it to Labuan.
Check the results.
Pensiangan, Kota Marudu, Beaufort, Keningau and Tenom could well have been won had there been straight contests there.
How many more were lost on account of dispirited voters who, wanting change, were put off by the disunited opposition and took what little BN threw at them in exchange for their votes?
I do not need to wait for the report of the People’s Tribunal to know that UMNO and BN cheated us at the polls at the last GE.
Yes, we were cheated.
And let down.