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Coming together cos they love Sabah
Published on: Sunday, May 15, 2022
By: Datuk John Lo
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It was a beautiful dream come true. Hajiji’s inclusiveness is bearing fruit where it is most important at the political level. Heartening to see that a number of opposition political leaders have accepted Hajiji’s invitation to attend the Majlis Ramah Mesra Aidilfitri at SICC on 7 May 2022. It was a good start.

This coming together of some political leaders from both side of the political divide is historical and heralds a better future for Sabah if they can elevate from social pleasantries to focus on economic issues for the common interest of Sabahans. 

Already, this convergence has already produced results, albeit on a small scale, like the reduction of exorbitant air fare during Hari Raya, equitable share of revenue and others. 

Hajiji and opposition leaders have spoken, to which the PM and Transport Minister have acted immediately. So many other economic problems that need such united, cohesive approach!

Among the opposition leaders that I have seen are Ginger Phoong, Jenny Lasimbang, Frankie Poon, Ewon Benedict, Christina Liew. I may have missed out others. 

I have the pleasure of talking to Ginger on the possibility of government/opposition politicians’ cooperating on economic issues for the common good of all Sabahans. Ginger was most responsive and enthusiastic. 

If more political leaders can adopt his attitude and leadership style Sabah’s economic future will be better assured.

Acceptance of Hajiji’s invitation is an important step. The acceptance by opposition political leaders to Hajiji’s invitation is an excellent start. It is an important first step towards building consensus on regaining Sabah’s rights/entitlements and addressing on many other problems. 

Being apolitical, I do not know how, when and where the next step should be after the Majlis Ramah Mesra Aidilfitri. 

Will the “devils” in the egos of some Sabah political leaders become the obstacles to a political détente on seeking answers for Sabah’s economic problems?

I don’t understand politics, much less on the unpredictable political minds. The best avenue, to me, is for the leaders of all political parties in Sabah, especially those in opposition, to express in the press of their grave concern on all the serious economic problems that Sabahans are enduring on a daily basis and that they would agree to sit down to seek solutions to alleviate them. 

Most momentous if they can overcome their obsession in ego-pride to do this. Those unwilling to do so can give their explanation and/or alternatives to suffering Sabahans.

Their public statements will give the all-important “green light” to their supporter MPs and ADUNs. 

Going forward. Just social chitchats are insufficient. Must get organised. If, by the grace of the Almighty, all the all heads of political parties can agree to act in concert to solve Sabah’s economic problems, I would like to suggest the following steps to be taken—- [a] Meeting of all political party heads. Hajiji has started the ball rolling with his invitation for Majlis Ramah Mesra Aidilfitri. Hajiji as the Chief Minister, after all the political party heads have expressed their wish to meet publicly, can initiate a meeting. They need not agree on how to solve these problems but MUST agree to converge on speaking out for Sabah in Parliament and Adun. They can disagree on the method as, understandably, each party may have its own strategy but must agree on objectives/targets. In summary, they can differ on the means but they should have consensus on the ends. This should give the all-important message to the federal government that Sabahans are ONE, cannot be separated and exploited.

[b] They also can agree on the formation of a panel, consisting of apolitical imminent Sabahans to determine the priority of Sabah’s economic problems.

[c] This panel can determine the most pressing 20 to 30 most pressing economic problems. They will present them to the political heads with explanation and solutions. This should not take more than 3 months as the problems are already well known.

[d] The heads of political parties should then meet and decide on the priorities to these problems and strategy to solve them.

[e] The heads of political parties should then assemble all their MPs and Adun, let the panel inform them of these urgent problems and the strategy to tackle them, in Parliament and Assembly.

Small window to solve Sabah’s economic woes. Few factors——[a] Urgent to take advantage of Hajiji’s inclusiveness and investor-friendly policies which have attracted more than RM20 billion investment in 2021 up to now. These investments can and should benefit all Sabahans. 

More quality investment could come to Sabah if there is political unity and stability among Sabah’s top political leadership. 

[b] Global economic problems, especially spiking inflation which is affecting Sabahans very badly, especially the poor. They will worsen very much. 

[c] Though MA63 has been passed, its complex/difficult implementation involving the regaining of Sabah’s many rights and equitable economic development funding may take generations to bear concrete results. 

There is always the danger that Sabah may never regain our rights if the political leaders continue to play political games at our expense. 

Masidi has emphatically said that Sabah may sue for the 40pc of revenue. It is obvious that Sabah’s rights cannot be regained without tough negotiation or even legal fights. 

The chink in our armour is political selfishness and disunity. All political leaders should support him with their public statements.

[d] The present political chaos in West Malaysia is best opportune time for Sabah to regain our rights. Addressing all these problems will need the utmost political unity and stability.

For political leaders’ attention. In case some political leaders think it is not worth their while to solve Sabah’s economic problems or their egos preventing them to do so, let me assure them that the majority of Sabahans have suffered deeply in silence for decades and that many Sabahans are in dire straits which is worsening by the day. 

Political leaders in Sabah are lucky that Sabah voters are docile unlike those in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. They would have taken to the streets to demand their resignations long time ago. 

Sabah’s problems are plenty, fundamental, structural and very real, like lowest household income, highest unemployment, deprivation of an equitable share of our own oil/gas and inequitable economic development fundings from the federal government. 

The restoration of MA63 is just the beginning of a long struggle. Sabahans cannot afford to rest but must work in tandem on unity to regain all that Sabah has lost. 

Any political leader who refuses to contribute solutions are condemning Sabahans further back into the economic black hole from which we must struggle to emerge. 

They are failing in their first obligatory duty as elected representatives, betraying their voters.

More political fights can only destroy Sabah.

Political Unity and Stability are key to our economic future and survival.

So, please join hands with Hajiji to solve Sabah’s economic problems.

- The views expressed here are the views of the writer Datuk John Lo and do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Express.

- If you have something to share, write to us at: [email protected]





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