Convergence of divergent views, approaches
Published on: Tuesday, May 26, 2020
By: Datuk John Lo
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I thank some politicians and well-wishers who have phoned or messaged on my last week’s article in the Daily Express, “Another great injustice done to Sabah”. 

As a Sabahan, I am truly encouraged that there are politicians and Sabahans who want to restore and secure better economic rights for Sabah, for this generation, if this is not possible, for next generation. 

There is no fast panacea for 50 years of economic neglect, expect trench fights and possession of tons of perseverance. But starting must be here and now.

Most politicians’ focus is on how to allow divergent political views, approaches and achieve convergent objective for Sabah’s economic rights. How to arrive at this single ultimate objective? 

The Sarawakians have achieved it to a very large extent. Hence, they are much further ahead [except tourism]. The question for Sabahan politicians is – they can do it, why can’t you?

If I may be allowed, I will offer some possibilities.

New mindset.

First and foremost, the politicians have got to be honest with themselves first. An honest search of conscience will tell them that for far too long, too many Sabahan politicians have ignored/neglected Sabahans’ economic rights, focusing on buttering the egos of the federal leadership for personal political and financial interest. No positive change can happen if they continue like this. 

The new mindset will require for the politicians to love Sabah more than themselves or their pockets. This is the over riding factor. When we have more of them thinking this way, the rest will be quite easier. 

The next important point is to take out personalised politics and infuse the politics of gentlemen where, after heated debates and heated arguments, they can shake hand and stay as friends. 

Once personal politics can be set aside, political discourse can be elevated to policy debates like politicians in most advance countries do. 

If the above can be achieved, which I am sure it can be done as most Sabahan politicians are sufficiently educated to appreciate the benefit of this transformation. 

Then divergent political views, approaches and convergent economic rights will be possible. 

Restoring economic rights based on facts.

With the aforementioned new mind set firmly established, the basis to focus debates on facts will be simpler. 

Facts are facts like the sun will rise tomorrow or that, as YB Junz has rightly pointed out, Sabah’s industrial diesel is 57pc more expensive than in West Malaysia. 

No one in their right mind will challenge about tomorrow’s sun rise. Differences in opinions may arise as to the exact timing of sun rise.

Likewise, the economic rights of Sabah must be established like tomorrow’s sunrise. It must stay as a fact. Debates can be on how and what policies to achieve our rights like ascertaining the exact timing of the sun rise.

Compilation of deprivations our economic rights.

This can easily fill up a book or tw0, stretching back to the formation of Malaysia. 

The state government will have tons of cases, past [these are historical facts] and present. The private sector will have plenty too. All these can be compiled and agreed on.

On completion of the compilations, these can be established as “facts”.

When the past and present deprivations of our economic rights have been established as facts, they will become the unifying force for all politicians.

Why facts are important?

Sabahans must wrench out the ghost from within each of us that things cannot be changed. This is defeatism. With the right political leadership, a new sense of confidence in ourselves will emerge so that we can unite on fighting for our economic rights.

Facts will give us a new conviction/direction. Here I want to borrow CNN’s latest adverts using the word “fact”.

In time of uncertainty, facts provide clarity.

In time of anxiety, facts comfort

In a time of misinformation facts correct.

In time of division, facts unit.

In time of crisis, facts matter most

Where is confusion, facts can focus

How to fight for our economic rights?

First is not to push blame on federal leaders. It is our fault for allowing others to exploit us, take our resources. States like Selangor, Johor and Malacca have become successful because they are good at protecting their economic rights.

Easiest way out is to say “talking is easy”. The fight won’t and will never be easy against the vested, deeply entrenched political and economic war lords in West Malaysia. Nor will it be easy with Petronas. Fighting to regain Sabah’s economic rights is not for the fainted hearted, selfish, simpleton politicians. 

We need politicians who command respect, honesty and be principled on our economic rights. 

Fight does not mean weapons. More effective is strength of character. Excellent examples are Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela who can change the course of history of their countries and the world without a firing bullet. 

Imagine if Sabah has 10 or 20 politicians who possess these virtues? The federal leaders will surely see them with deference. Even if they want to short change Sabah, they would surely think more than twice.

Sabah’s economic rights are SACROSANCT.

Politicians can Indulge in all the politics they want on political views and approaches and showcase to Sabahans their brilliant ideas. This is good for Sabahans to understand and appreciate their different perspectives. But when it comes to Sabah’s economic rights, politics should stop. They should unite, secure, defend, co-ordinate and add value to our economic rights. If the politicians love Sabah, they should hold our economic rights SACROSANCT, not to be violated/profaned by cheap politicking. 

Are there leaders with strength of characters?

I hope so. Politicians who are worth their salt should know Sabah’s economic plights all too well which have been around for years. Pleads of ignorance is dishonesty. They know Sabah’s problems all too well from the federal government and leaders. Most don’t have courage to speak out or fear loss of political/economic favours.

To restore Sabah’s economic rights, we need a set of visionary leaders irrespective of political affiliation with courage to protect and fight for our economic rights.

In politics for what, for whom? 

Yes, WHY in politics? The politicians have fought among themselves for 50 years, supposedly for our economic interest. Result is pathetic. With all the God given resources, Sabah is still in the bottom of half of Malaysia’s GDP per capita table, slightly better than Kelantan and Kedah. What does that tell us? We should be competing with Selangor and Sarawak for the top spot.

If the politicians’ objective in politics is noble and altruistic, they would fight for our fundamental economic rights – not to horse trade them as has happened in Sabah.

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