Excellent statesmanship, economic leadership
Published on: Sunday, September 26, 2021
By: Datuk John Lo
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Sabah’s Deep Rooted & Prolonged Economic Malaise. Many have asked members of the Sabah Economic Advisory Council, especially Chairman Tan Sri David Chu, on what’s going on in Sabah’s economy. Most expect thunders and lightnings after Hajiji has been sworn in as Chief Minister. Few realise Sabah’s deep rooted and prolonged economic malaise. Resetting and restructuring the economy are and will continue to be difficult and extremely complex.  Wrong strategic policies and/or implementation therefore can compound the already bad economic condition Sabah is already in [including the raging COVID pandemic].

The Man, Hajiji as CM.

Sabah has the greatest number of Chief Ministers, all of whom have some unique characters and personalities. Hajiji is not fond of flamboyance, not prone to fiery speeches, does not resort to racial or religious bigotries. In undertaking the task of turning Sabah’s economy around, he has taken great care, knowing the gravity of the task, sought advice, given it lots of thoughts before execution. Hajiji has announced he is CM for all Sabahans to mark his 100 days in office. True to his word, he has allocated funds for all major religions, schools and worthy NGOs.

Most outstandingly and true to his word, he has rejected outright a proposed parliamentary bill that would restrict other religions citing Sabah’s respect for religious harmony.

Hajiji’s Economic Leadership.

Hajiji has made several very significant policy announcements in his winding up speech in the recently concluded Assembly. 

Territorial Sea Act 2012 

This is a first in Sabah’s history and exemplary statesmanship.
Hajiji agreed with opposition Darrel Leiking’s suggestion on this act and is willing to work with the opposition to resolve it. Presently, Sabah’s territory is confined to only 3 nautical miles under this Act. Regaining Sabah’s rightful territorial sea boundary will mean 12 nautical miles. Very importantly is the internationally recognised 200 nautical miles of exclusive economic zone, bearing in mind of oil/gas deposits, minerals and fishing rights. Sabah has the longest coast line in Malaysia. Extend this length out to 200 miles, Sabah’s area coverage is amazingly large.

Sabah will have Greater Say in Oil and Gas. This is Hajiji’s major achievement.

Sabah’s less than satisfactory share of the wealth from our own oil and gas has been a sore point for years. Petronas’ pumping our oil and gas to Bintulu for processing was the final insult to Sabahans’ dignity. Petronas has deprived Sabah’s rights and opportunities to industrialise, to collect sales tax. Hajiji has, since taking office just under 1 year [29th September will be his anniversary as CM] has produced impressive improvements in regaining Sabah oil and gas rights. I am hopeful and confident he will have more good news in additional to those he has already announced.

Much more heartening is that Hajiji has managed to enlist some Sabahan oil/gas senior executives overseas to return and serve Sabah. Very significant move this is! For once, some Sabah good brains are returning to develop Sabah’s oil/gas industry.

GLCs Must Perform.

Hajiji’s announcement is music to Sabahans’ ears! Knowing their history, their billions of losses over the years, bad management/corruption, political crony appointments as chairmen and directors and poor returns to assets, Hajiji should be congratulated for his courageous action to rein in blundering GLCs. Hajiji means business!

Sorting out the 250 GLCs [albeit a few are performing] can produce —-[a] reduction in funding GLCs’ losses. [b] Dividends from profitable GLCs can contribute to government budget. [c] Robust GLCs can contribute to Sabah’s economic development. [d] Profitable and well managed GLCs will give Sabah respect like Singapore’s GLCs have been doing.

This is one of Hajiji’s major policy initiatives with long term benefits for Sabah.

Hajiji has Cancelled SFI’s Timber Licences.

Well done to Hajiji to cancel them in public interest. SFI, which has been declared insolvent, under receiver ordered by a court order, has already breached many terms and conditions of the licences. Of the 33 FMUs, less than a handful are performing. Hajiji is sending a powerful message to the non-performing FMUs that their days are numbered.

YBs as Economic Leaders.

This is a most innovative policy initiative, not practiced anywhere in Malaysia. This is a Malaysian first!
The MPs and all Adun have been mere messengers,majority are no better than kampong heroes, playing politics and having no responsibility to lead their constituencies in economic development. Hajiji has changed their roles. Henceforth the adun will have to transform themselves into economic leaders, directly responsible for the economic progress of their respective constituencies!


Work Together for the Sabahan Family.

As CM for all Sabahans, Hajiji has allocated funds for all government and opposition adun.
In line with the PM’s concept of the Malaysian Family, all Sabahan political leaders should promote the Sabahan Family. I like Darrel Leiking’s suggestion that all Sabah MPs should unite for Sabah’s interest. There is no need for a special assembly seating. 

Just meet, talk and agree on what Sabah should equitably get from federal government. Better still, it would be heartening for GRS and all opposition parties to sign an MOU like the one at the federal level. Best if Sabah politicians can produce a better MOU than the federal one, covering 2022 federal and state budget, economic policies that can regain Sabah’s economic rights and control.

More Hajiji Sabahans First Policies?

Yes. I think so. Sabahans can expect more policy announcements from Hajiji in the context of Sabahans First Policy in other major economic sectors like Industrial Tree Plantations and down-stream industrialization, Mining, etc. 

Hopefully, Hajiji’s unassuming, open style political leadership is on the cusp of bringing forth a new era of economic unity in Sabah. Faster with the support of the opposition in the spirit of Sabah Family and Sabahans First Policy.

- Footnote: Please google for further information on Hajiji’s above policy announcements.


Hajiji at the recent State Assembly sitting.

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