The Year of the Monkey 2004 promised merriment and prosperity and indeed brought luck to the Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) Government under the leadership of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman. That year, the BN made an almost clean sweep of the 60 state and 25 parliamentary seats it contested in the 11th general election, losing only the Kuala Penyu state and Sandakan parliamentary seats. It is now the Year of the Rat — and the country is geared for another general election come March 8. The thought on everyone’s minds is whether the Year of the Rat will bring the same luck as the Year of the Monkey to Musa. According to Chinese beliefs, the rat symbolises diligence and hard work and those born on this auspicious year will be successful in life. For the Sabah BN, the Year of the Rat signifies a year of challenges along with the need to fulfil its responsibilities. Having won a state and two parliamentary seats unopposed after nominations yesterday, it could be an indication of BN not facing much problem to win the election comfortably. BN parliamentary candidates, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) president Tan Sri Joseph Kurup and former deputy chief minister Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh won uncontested in Pensiangan and Kalabakan respectively while Datuk Ramlee Marahaban was announced the winner for the Bugaya state seat. Like the diligent rats, the BN is also serious in developing the state in all aspects for the benefit of the people, and in this case, Musa will be shouldered, yet again, with the task. He took over the state leadership in March 2003. With the implementation of various programmes under the state’s development master plan, which emphasised on agriculture, manufacturing and tourism since becoming the Chief Minister and the Sabah Development Corridor, which was launched last month, Musa has proven to the more than three million Sabah population of his political capability and prowess to steer the state. Musa’s ability in handling dissent and frustrations by incumbent members of parliaments and assemblymen, who were dropped for this election, also proved his credible leadership. Political observers are confident of BN’s victory in the election, especially with the launching of the Sabah Development Corridor by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, which promises holistic development, including creation of more jobs for the people. The re-entry of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) into the BN fold is also said to have further strengthened the coalition in Sabah. There are now seven component parties in Sabah BN - Umno, PBS, the United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO), United Sabah People’s Party (PBRS), Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), MCA, Gerakan and MIC. A politician, Joos Galid, said he was confident that the Sabah people would vote for the BN in the election. “The people, especially rural residents, realise that only the BN government is capable of bringing development to their areas,” he said.