Friday, March 7, 2008


Penampang independent fighting the system


Dr Anthony Tibok sat calmly while savouring his warm Chinese tea at a coffee shop at Hilltop here after a long day of campaigning as an independent candidate for the Penampang parliamentary seat. With a thoughtful look on his face, he listened intently to a question about his political struggle and what made him decide to contest as an independent. “I am fighting the system. We are like beggars sitting on a pile of gold on our own land and it is this BN (Barisan Nasional) system that is depriving us of our rights,” he said frankly. Anthony, who holds a doctorate in bio-technology, admitted that he cannot match the massive campaign machinery employed by national parties such as the BN or opposition front Parti Keadilan Rakyat. He however stressed that what he lacks in numbers, he makes up for with conviction and staunch support from the few who share his beliefs. “Where I can, I help cover the costs for carrying out my campaign, but for the most part my team are all with me on a voluntary basis and we are self-financed. “We may not have the money but we are together because of a strong grounding and direction in what we stand for. “Parties like BN may have the money, giving out allowances to their supporters simply for sitting at their election headquarters at night but if you ask them what the party stands for, how many can actually give a clear answer?” he questioned. And his campaign has been far from conventional as far as Malaysian politics is concerned, visiting the strongholds of his very opponents to speak to their supporters. “For example a few days ago, I went to the BN headquarters in Kapayan to speak to the people there and I managed to win over a few people. “People find it strange that I shake hands with Tan Sri (Bernard Dompok) when I meet him, knowing full well that he is my opponent in the elections, or even Datuk Edward Khoo (BN State candidate for Kapayan). “I respect them because they are still people. I am contesting against them in the elections but there is no malice behind it ... I think we in Malaysia must learn to agree to disagree before we can move forward,” he said. On his chances of winning the Penampang seat, Anthony said while he is “always optimistic”, it is best left to the electorate to decide. As he said in an interview a few days earlier, “it doesn’t matter if I win or lose, as long as I can convince a few people to make a stand for themselves, I am a winner.”