Now, everyone wants to be a YB

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | If you pause and think for a moment, you wouldn’t swallow Air Asia’s famous slogan, “Now, everyone can fly”, hook, line and sinker.

Considering the airline’s hidden charges, no refund policy, priority seating and baggage charges and exorbitant prices for food and drinks on board, you still have to dig out from your pocket quite a bit if you want to fly.

But let’s give it to Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes; the airline boss is successful because his budget and “no frills” concept have made it generally affordable for many to fly and see places.

As we approach yet another election, we can borrow from Fernandes and Air Asia because it’s true that “Now, everyone wants to be a YB”.

The honest person who makes a serious entry into politics will admit that he or she harbours ambition of being a “somebody” one day. And that means seeking elected office.

In Malaysia, as the first step towards achieving that goal, you have to become a YB (meaning Yang Berhormat; Yang Berkhidmat).

If you lack the stamina to fight, you can cry.

Just review the scene at the Federal Territory (FT) Amanah meeting the other night. It was reported that some FT Amanah leaders were weeping (yes, in tears) because they were not given an FT seat to contest in GE14.

Amanah president Mohamad Sabu was there to pacify his members and offered them a shoulder to cry on.

What’s going on here?

While I think I can understand their outburst at being left out, I would also describe their emotional display as most childish, pathetic and unbecoming of aspiring politicians.

What does FT Amanah really want? Either Setiawangsa or Titiwangsa to contest. And what does this mean? It simply means fulfilling one ambitious leader’s desire to be a YB. Isn’t this the case?

This is a classic example of a “Now, everyone wants to be a YB” case. I apologise to FT Amanah for using them as an example on this subject. But it so happens that it is the most glaring case which was widely reported.

The same is true elsewhere. Johor Amanah was also grumbling about Pakatan Harapan’s seat distribution.

In Selangor PKR, expect some fireworks, possibly internal sabotage as well, as the two warring camps jostle for safe seats for their candidates.

Penang DAP is also said to be having some internal issues, arising mainly from Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s corruption case.

In my home state of Sarawak, a senior PKR leader grumbled to me last week that Sarawak DAP recently admitted some of his party’s former Dayak members into the DAP.

Well, I don’t blame them. If these Dayaks were not given a chance to contest in the past, why not join another party which will give them the opportunity to fulfil their political ambition?

Let personal integrity and credibility fly out of the window, who cares! Do all it takes to become a YB first. That’s all that matters! Isn’t this true in many cases?

But let me advise these politicians too that while ambition is deemed necessary if one were to progress and prosper, it can also be a trap, subtle in the beginning but turning into quicksand at the end.

Don’t sink in life because of your ambition to be a “somebody”. If you can’t handle that ambition, it’s actually okay to be ordinary, as many are.

Coalition discipline

Now, there is another issue which Harapan must also take note.

It seems that more public grumblings are coming from within Harapan than BN. It’s true that there are more reports of voices of unhappiness and disgruntlement from Harapan regarding their own affairs, not only in the mainstream media but also in the alternative media.

Within Umno, MIC and MCA, there are also unhappy people but it appears that they are more disciplined and wisely choose to resolve problems from within. In Harapan, too many people are talking unnecessarily. BN wins hands down here, in my book.

The ambitious young politicians must also come to terms with this reality.

There are those who have lobbied to be candidates for years but never been selected by their party. Then there are the lucky ones who appeared from nowhere and became YBs on their first attempt.

If you are one of the lucky few, make sure you know what to do after becoming a YB. There have been cases of some who could not cope after a while and would do stupid things like not answering calls from their constituents.

It’s tough being an opposition YB. You will most likely be left to fend for yourself. But bear one thing in mind at all times – stay grounded.

Every politician will claim that he or she is in politics to serve the people. There could be some sincere and genuine souls fighting for ideals and principles.

But the majority of politicians are in the game because the idea of being a public figure is attractive. Admit that it’s good for the ego.

Well, I say to those desperate and dying to become YBs in the coming elections – if it’s just about ego and feeling cool being addressed as YB, perhaps you should look for another job.

As for me, I think I might just keep faith with Tony’s slogan this once, fly with Air Asia to Langkawi during GE14, catch up with my reading and writing while lazing on the beach and get away from it all.

After all, I don’t fall into this “Now, everyone wants to be a YB” category.

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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