Just where is the fairness for Sabah?
Published on: Sunday, May 12, 2019
By: Datuk John Lo


“DPM blames 1MDB scandal for Sabah not getting more development funds” on 5th May 2019

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/05/05/dpm-1mdb-affects-all-malaysians/1749982

“Doctor vents problems faced by neglected, underfunded Sabah rural clinics” on 30 April 2019.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/04/30/doctor-vents-problems-faced-by-neglected-underfunded-sabah-rural-clinics/

The above news headlines wrenched by guts and have deeply hurt my inner soul as a Sabahan.

Read together, they have shown most poignantly and heartbreakingly of Sabah’s lowly position when federal funding is concerned. The message is very clear, Sabah does not figure much priority in the allocation of federal development fund. 

There is little attention given to us. Sabah is only useful to those seeking to win election or to maintain political power.

Otherwise, there is little change between now and the past 50 years.

Firstly, I want to say thank you to Dr. Chun Tean for venting his frustrations on the serious lack of funding for the rural clinic where he works. 

Let’s not question the intention of this good doctor for he has taken great professional and career risks to highlight the most unsatisfactory situation in the clinic. He has shown he cares for his patients. He has upheld the “Hippocratic Oath” for which we should salute him. 

I have been to many rural areas where time has stood still. The latest area I have visited is Paitan. Neglects are apparent in every aspects of rural life. 

Nothing much has ever happened to better the lives of our rural people, be it education, health, basic things like water and electricity. 

Many children walk or travel in tiny boats for miles to go to school or cannot even afford to attend school for various reasons one of which is they are required to work in the field. Many houses have been infested with termites and are not safe to stay. 

In Paitan, the people have said that the YB and politicians have visited them once for election campaign, promising heaven and hell. 

They know the politicians’ modus operanti- they will visit them again before GE15. May be they will give them a water tank or hand out some food. Nothing has changed. Life stands still or gets worse for our rural people. 

The fundamental question Sabahans must ask is why are there so many Sabahans in interior and coastal areas mired in deep poverty.

Millions of acres of oil palms are producing billions of ringgits each year to swell the national coffer and make shareholders of PLC in KL rich. 

Why are so many Sabahan fishermen and their families are still living in completely unacceptable condition when Sabah has the longest coastline of more than 1,000 km and reputedly has the richest fishing ground and marine resources. 

Things are serous wrong as our rural Sabah brothers and sisters have been and are still getting a very bad deal. It is not something is wrong. It is NOTHING IS RIGHT. They have been short changed and exploited for too long.

Now, I want to revert to DPM Wan Azizah’s headline statement which effectively means that development funds for Sabah has been affected because of 1MDB scandal. I can quite understand she has said it in the context of a by election in Sandakan. 

However, she must bear in mind that if the Federal Government has considered giving Sabah what is statutorily due and promised to us, Sabah would have a lot more funds for development.

Many federal ministers have boasted that PH government have turned around Malaysian economy. 

[a] Export has continued to improve in January 2019 [https://sbr.com.sg/economy/asia/malaysias-exports-inched-31-in-january].

[b] Minister of Finance has announced better credit ratings

[https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2019/05/07/rating-agencies-confident-malaysia-can-reach-fiscal-targets/].

[c]Debates are raging on the construction of Kulim airport 

[https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/05/06/lim-hopes-penang-kulim-airports-will-complement-each-other/1750303]

[d] Federal government will construct a “ship to ship” hub in Johor.

[https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysia-plans-ship-to-ship-hub-in-johor-baru-port-waters-raises-hackles-in-johor]

Above, I have given a few examples of the many Federal Government economic initiatives in W Malaysia. I applause them for their initiatives, most of which are in billions. 

What I like to ask what initiatives they have for Sabah? Why nothing for Sabah? Where does Sabah stand in their estimation for economic development? Do we have to wait for some good news in the coming GE15 campaign?

While all these exciting economic developments are going on for W Malaysia, I like remind the Federal Government the pre GE14 manifesto promises. 

I don’t expect them to pour billions into Sabah straight away like what it is being done for W Malaysia. 

However, it is fair that the Federal Government should live up to GE14 manifesto promises of 20pc oil royalty and 40pcshare of revenue. 

We are not asking much. We don’t expect anything more than that. With the improving economy and many projects being implemented in W Malaysia, the PH Government’s reasons of insufficient fund for not paying 20pc oil royalty and 40pc share of revenue are no longer valid – sound rather hollow and insincere!

It will be a sad day for Sabahans to see so much is happening for W Malaysia and the Federal Government not willing to give us what is statutorily due and promised to Sabah. 

The Federal Government is sending a clear message to Sabah. And the message is not good. It is extremely difficult to reconcile with all the exciting things in W Malaysia and Sabahans being told that 1MDB has affected development funds for Sabah. 

I hope the PH Government will reconsider its previous position and pay Sabah what is statutorily due and promised without delays. Give Sabah our equitable share.

Having to wait for 1MDB to fully settle before Sabah can receive what is due to us will mean several more years. By then, GE15 will have arrived. 

I don’t think this is acceptable. We cannot wait for that would mean Sabah will be falling behind further even more. Sabahan leaders from both sides of political divide must unite to fight what is due to Sabah. 

The reason is simple. PH Federal Government will continue to tell us all sorts of reasons for not giving us our due. Their focus and priority will not be in Sabah. 

For them, it is logical and urgent to sort things out first in W Malaysia because PH has lost 3 by-elections straight [Rantau, Cemaron, Semenyih]. PH must be pretty stressed out in W Malaysia to care for Sabah. We should not wait for charity but to fight for what is due to us.

Having said all the above, the PH Government has done quite well to date in turning around the national economy and progress towards the New Malaysia. 

No doubt about it, this huge task, in its totality, would take a few more years to complete. 

We cannot wait for its completion. It is therefore equitable for the PH Government to give Sabah our dues NOW in oil royalty and revenue share so that we can move on in tandem with W Malaysia in economic progress.





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