Sabahan PM? Sure, the time has come
Published on: Monday, July 06, 2020
By: John Lo
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A Sabahan PM? My first and firm reaction is WHY NOT? Are there qualified Sabahans? Yes! Are there capable Sabahans? Yes! Can a Sabahan may make a good PM? Yes. 

Since being asked by a friend on Tun Mahathir’s idea that a Sabahan should become PM, I have given it a lot of thought, not on Tun M’s motive or who in Sabah should be PM or when this should eventuate all of which are within the realm of political analysts, not me, to ponder on these complex political questions. All I want is for a Sabahan to be PM because of the potential economic benefits for Sabah. 

As a Sabahan, I like, if I may, deal on some economic points if and when there is a Sabahan PM as it will have far reaching consequences for Malaysia in general and Sabah, in particular. Hopefully, these points will generate more discussions to achieve an equilibrium between political and economic perspectives. 

Malaysian Constitution does not prevent a Sabahan to be PM. 

Firstly, let’s be clear about this. The Malaysian Constitution allows any Malaysian to be PM, without regard to his/her race, religion or gender. All that is needed is for this person to be able to command a majority in Parliament. A Sabahan is just as qualified as any Malaysian to hold this highest executive office. To reinforce, a Sabahan has every right to be PM just as much as any Malaysian. 

Why not a Sabahan PM? 

Sabah has been in Malaysia for 57 years, more precisely, 20,743 days from 16 September 1963 to 1 July 2020. That’s a long, long 2.5 generations. All Sabahans should have aspiration for a Sabahan to hold the No. 1 executive post of the land. In fact, overdue for Malaysia to have a Sabahan PM. For comparation, 

[a] Kedah which is smaller than many districts in Sabah, has Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Mahathir [twice PM]. 

[b] Pahang – Tun Razak and Dato Seri Najib [father and son] 

[c] Johor – Tun Hussein Onn and Tan Sri Muhyiddin. 

[d] Penang – Tun Abdullah Badawi 

My question is why shouldn’t there a Sabahan PM is fair. Heads need to be examined if we Sabahans don’t want a Sabahan PM or worse, think no Sabahan can qualify to be PM. 

A Sabahan PM can rectify Sabah’s lack of economic development. 

The fact of the matter is that the federal government controls almost all monetary/fiscal and economic development leverages. Sabah has preciously little room to act except land assessment and sale tax. Look at our very poor economic performance in comparison to states favoured by federal like Selangor, Johor, Malacca etc. 

We have had some Sabahans holding various federal cabinet posts but these have proved to be ineffective to give Sabah a decent economy. Dismaying to see Sabah is worst off in:

[a] Low economic growth rate, 

[b] Largest unemployment numbers/ highest graduate unemployment, 

[c] Low household income, 

[d] Low GDP per capita, 

[e] Poor infrastructure, 

[f] Highest rate of poverty. 

[g] Largest producer of oil and gas and extremely minimal jobs and contracts for Sabahans. Hardly any value-added industry. Our gas is being piped to Bintulu for LNG and Sabahans are forced to buy expensive gas in tanks for cooking. YB Junz Wong has rightly pointed out, our industrial gas, shipped elsewhere and back to Sabah, is 57pc more expensive than in W Malaysia.

[h] Largest oil palm acreage with only nominal downstream. 

[i] Nominal budget allocation every year. 

[j] Sabah features no importance in national economic policies and strategy. [k] Continuous broken promises like oil royalty, revenue sharing. 

[l] No federal financial or important institution located in Sabah. 

[k] No high pay jobs have been created in Sabah. 

[l] Little business opportunities for Sabahans. The list goes on and on. 

A Sabah PM is best positioned to right most of the wrongs/short comings that Sabah has suffered in last 57 years. Sabahans are fair minded, a Sabahan PM won’t be unfair to other states, will only return the share justly due to Sabah. This he can do by equitable micro and macro-economic, fiscal and monetary policies. 

When a Sabahan has become PM, then we will know

[a] Sabah has achieved equal partnership in Malaysia. 

[b] Sabah is not an economic colony of Malaya. 

A Sabahan PM will be PM for all Malaysians. 

While W Malaysia is being riddled with politics of race and religion, Sabah has been a model of unity across race and religion. All Sabahan leaders have this common attribute – no polarisation of race and religion in politics. Same in the economic sphere. A Sabahan PM does not have the hang ups of a W Malaysian PM with numerous weighty obligations to economic war lords and racial extremists. 

He will bring to Putrajaya with him a refreshing approach to national unity and economic integration. A Sabahan PM will be PM for all Malaysians in the true sense, a uniting force that can truly transform Malaysia into a harmonious nation. A Sabahan PM may succeed to foster unity in Malaysia where W Malaysian PMs have not achieved in recent years. 

All Sabahans should support a Sabahan to become PM.

Whether or not Tun M has floated a political ruse and/or the developing grave political uncertainties, Sabahans and political leaders should unite to pursue the idea of a Sabahan PM from Sabah’s overall economic prospective advantages. It may happen or it may not. 

It may or may not materialize within next year, 10 years or even 20 years from now. 

It is not about who from Sabah should become or when. Paramount in our mind is that any Sabahan becoming PM will benefit Sabah economically, irrespective of his political leaning or party affiliation. 

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