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I took nothing from Sabah: Anwar
Published on: Thursday, September 19, 2019
By: Sherell Jeffrey

KOTA KINABALU: Prime Minister-in-waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim declared that he never took an inch of Sabah land nor a tree (timber) while holding the post of Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister (in the 1990s).

“Which is why I dare to speak up,” he said, during a dialogue with Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) students at the Recital Hall, Tuesday. 

The Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) President disagreed with the observation of a student who said Sabah had for a long time felt it was sidelined by the Federal Government. 

“There are many Sabahans who are corrupted, who reaped billions for self-profit, which is what impoverished the people of Sabah,” he said, adding he also did not agree with the sentiments of race and religion.

“I see there is sentiment now … in Sabah, I am not going to mention any names, there are previous leaders who used the opportunity to reap billions gained from state revenue,” he said.

He said now the Government allocates between RM26 billion to RM28 billion to help the poor and make sure the funds reaches the targeted group, but the problem happens when there is corruption, cheating and leakages, etc. 

“Look at timber in Sabah, how many hundreds of acres have been cleared, it is not a matter of ‘di anak tirikan’, I don’t agree with such sentiments,” he said. 

Anwar, who is also Port Dickson MP, said the previous government as well as the present Pakatan Harapan-led government have never sidelined Sabah and Sarawak.

“It is just a sentiment that should not have been raised. If in the past people used to say that the federal government has ‘robbed’ Sabah of its wealth, for example, timber, it didn't happen as those who robbed the state were Sabah’s own leaders with some (leaders) from the federal level,” he said.

He also said poverty should not be an excuse not to implement the Digital Native Agenda (DNA23). Such perception must stop because digitalisation is the only way for the nation to be lifted. 

“If we are anti-technology, we will be left behind … such sentiments of not promoting DNA23 just because there are poor people should stop,” he said.

The DNA23 was launched by Anwar in February as an initiative on how the digital economy will impact the country.  

A third year International Relations student said it would be better to prioritise pressing matters faced by the State such as undocumented people where locals, especially in rural areas, still have no documents, than introducing DNA23. 

“When it comes to modernisation in Sabah, I think DNA23 is a very big thing and far beyond the capabilities of Sabah itself,” she said. 

Anwar when responding said there are ministries which look into solving poverty issues, adding that the DNA23 initiative is meant to help people improve their livelihood. He cited Rungus beads which are now able to penetrate international market thanks to digitalisation. 

“The Rungus make beautiful beads and the DNA23 application allows them to popularise the product to the international market, now people as far as Italy can buy the beads.

“This is what I mean digital economy, to help the poor, DNA23 is not only for the elite urban group or sophisticated industries, it is meant to benefit people like farmers and fishermen, etc,” he said. 

“If you don’t have digital economy, or universities without digitalisation will be backward, it will not be competitive, thus the reason why DNA23 must also be adopted by universities,” he added. 

He said the country will not succeed without digitalisation, adding that the nation’s chart will go up once it goes digital. 

On another note, he said UMS student representative councils can play a role in reducing the urban-rural gap by getting close to the people to create awareness on the importance of information technology.  

He cited special programmes conducted by University Malaya in which professors and students go to rural areas or at least squatter areas around Kuala Lumpur and Lembah Pantai to create exposure on digitalisation. 

“During my time in university, we have what is called the awareness campaign on the importance of education, the importance of Mathematics and Science, etc.

“We go to villages, in fact hundreds of students will go out during the weekends to do this, and we call ourselves conscience of the majority of the people, the voice and conscience of the people,” he said.



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