Hajiji’s economic management style
Published on: Sunday, January 10, 2021
By: Datuk John Lo
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DSP Hajiji’s 100-day message is both refreshing and innovative. Never has there been a CM who has put economic issues confronting Sabah so much in the forefront. He has placed on record in his first statement after assuming office that his top priority would be to revive Sabah’s economy. 

His statement has manifested his readiness to tackle Sabah’s most difficult and urgent economic problems, compounded by Covid-19, that have plagued our state for many years HEAD ON.

That he has avowed he would be Chief Minister for all Sabahans would give further comforts for Sabah’s highly integrated society, would be fair and accord equitable treatment for all Sabahans. DSP Hajiji will enhance unity in Sabah. Unity is one of the most critical factors for economic development. 

2021 budget and Covid-19.

Correctly and understandably so, much of DSP Hajiji’s 100 days have been devoted to restoring Sabahans’ economic well-being and resuscitating the much-weakened economy from Covid-19. Like many countries, Covid-19 has inflicted severe health and economic damage. In recognition of the severe economic damage, DSP Hajiji has budgeted a substantial portion of the 2021 budget to ease the burden of those most affected. 

Adjustments to existing and creation of new policies.

It is good that DSP Hajiji will make adjustments to existing and creation of new policies to spur up the economy. This is being pragmatic. 

Sabah’ many and varied economic problems can best be tackled by a combination of this approach. 

There are many areas where economic performance can be enhanced with policy adjustments after undertaking some detailed analysis. For example, in tourism promotion—- [a] Sabah has been attracting fairly low spending tourists. [b] Sabah has also been attracting mostly budget airlines and chartered flights. Some policy adjustments on tourism promotion in these 2 areas will yield handsome returns after the worst of Covid-19 is over.

There are many areas in the economy and administrative system that have the potential for policy adjustments.

On the other hand, the creation of new policies will involve careful research, assessment on their impacts and consultation with stakeholders. Many aspects of Sabah’s economy need revamp. An example is the timber industry. Here, DSP Hajiji has exercised wisdom to take more time to deliberate on creating a comprehensive, viable, sustainable timber industry and related down-stream beyond timber moulding and lamination to chemicals and other products policy. This comprehensive timber policy will also need to involve in ensuring FMUs’ 100pc performance in planting and producing the right type and quality of trees. Such an innovative policy is exciting and can ensure the perpetuation of wealth creation for Sabah’s future generation.



The Chinese will tell you that fighting won’t put food on the table. In the context of federal/state relationship structure, stubbornness and seeking for fights won’t benefit Sabah. There are frustrated Sabahans who wish our leaders to fight the federal government. While their attitude is understandable, what will Sabah gain by fighting?

Statesmanship, strength of character and quiet diplomacy will nurture mutual respect and more effective for Sabah to get an equitable share of economic development and funds. DSP Hajiji has set such a tone in this area.

Giving attention to Sabahan investors.

DSP Hajiji has stated that he aims to create a conducive economic environment for Sabahans to prosper and conduct their business. This is very important because of the prevailing poor global, national and state economic situations.

I hope DSP Hajiji will prioritise on encouraging Sabahans to undertake investment as soon as possible for 2 reasons—-[a] I believe that Sabahans have a substantial amount of latent investment capacity and entrepreneur energy, especially in young Sabahan entrepreneurs, that can be harnessed to revive and expand our economy. [b] Logical for Sabah government to give Sabahans the first investment opportunities before non-Sabahans.

Individual Sabahan investors may not be big but together, they represent a formidable economic force. The multiplier effects are more beneficial cos they will retain their profit and expand their operations in Sabah, will most probably employ Sabahans.

The essential factor for economic progress.

Correcting and breathing a new, vibrant life into Sabah’s economy cannot be the responsibility of DSP Hajiji alone. As CM, he can provide the leadership and direction but Sabah can succeed only if there is a bipartisan unity on economic development among political leaders. Selfish leaders fight for self-interest. Statesmen unite for the common interest.

And all Sabahan must step forward to give broad-based support to DSP Hajiji to enable him to build up Sabah’s economy with genuine progress.

Reduce politicking. Focus on strengthening/expanding Sabah’s economy.

DSP Hajiji’s economic thrust for Sabah.

Only 2 CMs have established economic visions.

When Tan Sri Harris was CM, he had a clear economic vision which he pursued relentlessly. In his model, he laid down Sabah’s economic foundation in agriculture, tourism and industrialization. Had the succeeding CM continued his model instead of cheap selling the projects/assets that he had built for Sabah, the Sabah’s economy would have been much stronger today. Tan Sri Harris had given Sabah the “golden era”.

Tan Sri Musa’s model, Halajutu, was based on Sabah’s 3 economic pillars, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. There was steady economic growth in his 15 years as CM. 

DSP Hajiji has instructed for the construction of a new economic model for Sabah. This initiative is very important and relevant to Sabah’s future. A well-thought-out economic model will give a clear, strategic direction for Sabah’s long term economic development.

DSP Hajiji’s initiative on the Sabah’s new economic model, 5th Year Economic Plan, the formation of Sabah Economic Advisory Council and Invest Sabah Bhd are clear indications of his intention to put economic recovery and expansion on the front burner.

The new economic era of DSP Hajiji is here. What can you help to expedite its realisation?



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