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Sabah interests must outshadow everything
Published on: Sunday, June 19, 2022
By: John Lo
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No greater love than “Love Sabah” is surely and steadily growing. If only this embryonic love for our Sabah can mature more, especially among politicians, then our future will be in good hands. Hajiji’s “Sabah First” or “Sabahans First Policy” has begun to produce positive impacts. Here are some reasons and examples for this rising tide of “Love Sabah”:

[a] Hajiji has succeeded to collect sales tax on petroleum products. This has been a thorny issue for a long time. Sarawak has been collecting this sale tax for many years but Petronas has refused Sabah. 

Their reason is that sales tax is only collectable at point of sales. In the first place, Petronas has simply siphoned our oil and gas to other states, namely Sarawak, Malacca and Johore and adding insult to injury, the receiving States have been collecting sales tax on our oil and gas! What justice for Sabah?  It is to Hajiji’s credit that he has since, on assuming office as CM on 29th September 2020, reversed this inequitable treatment. No easy task as this has been going on for decades.

[b] True and genuine love for Sabah has never been exhibited in such glories! 

First, Hajiji has declared that Sabah would continue to peruse Sabah’s 40pc share of revenue from the federal government followed by Masidi’s reaffirmation statement. Lo and behold, some PH representatives have filed a lawsuit to challenge the federal govern for the non-payment of Sabah’s 40pc share of revenue. 

This shows politicians do not need to be in the same party to fight for Sabah’s economic interest. Everyone has a role to play. Politics aside. This is the best convergence of fighting for Sabah’s economic interest.  This is a historical first and a great day for our Sabah. The ultimate perfect move is from Sabah Law Society when its President Roger Chin, announced its legal action against the federal government.

As Hajiji has said, SLS’ action is not political. I would call SLS’ initiative as “The Greatest Love for Sabah”. SLS is the most creditable body to take up the fight for Sabah as it is a statutory body, non-political and eminently qualified. Heartiest congratulations to Roger and SLS.

This development will, I hope, foster a greater sense of purpose and unity to protect our fair and equitable shares in other area like, development funding, trade, investment, job generation etc.

SAYAP [Sabah Young Entrepreneurs and Professionals] to the forefront for Sabah.

I must mention that SAYAP, the newly formed group of Sabah Young Entrepreneurs and Professionals group, since its formation in January 2022, is gaining momentum because it has shown a unique way to Love Sabah.  One of their objectives is to promote contributions for Sabah’s economic growth which they have vowed to do without expectation of government funding but out of “PURE love Sabah”. 

These are young, well qualified and concerned Sabahans who, instead of complaining endlessly, have decided to take the bull by its horn.  If SAYAP can succeed in a big way, the contributions from these young Sabahans will be immeasurable. SAYAP is non-political.

Stop being sceptical.

Many Sabahans’ favourite past time is to complain. A weakness which I sometimes indulge out of frustration on ineffective and/or dishonest politicians. 

Admittedly and understandably, Sabahans have every right to be unhappy, especially the older ones who have been brutishly short changed for decades. Sabah has lost 2 generations of economic development. We must fight for our economic rights.



Complaining has been futile. It is therefore very refreshing to see increasing number of young Sabahans like Roger Chin, his fellow lawyers and members of SAYAP group being at the forefront in the evangelization and actualisation of “Love Sabah”.   Their new mindset is just great as it will give invaluable moral support to leaders like Hajiji to fight for Sabah’s interest. To the sceptics, please help to voice support to these young Sabahans. 

They are our warriors! To the indifferent political leaders, do you want to be left behind or be dumped at the General Election? “Love Sabah” is the new politics in Sabah. 

Emerging economic recovery has begun.

Sabah, like the rest of the world, has been badly affected by the pandemic and now, the Ukraine war. Inflation has shot through the roof. Despite these calamities, there are good vibes that the worst is over for Sabah. The recovery journey has started and should gather momentum if the remaining Sabah leaders can instil a greater unity among themselves to speed up economic recovery.

Full economic recovery for Sabah, which has suffered economic deep deprivations for decades, will take time. The inflow and implementation of RM25 billions of investments, thanks to Hajiji’s investor friendly policies, will turn things around.

Some have already happened. 

[a] The Sabah government’s revenue has exceeded RM5 billion in 2021 which is a first time high in history.

In the pipe line are: [b] Power, which has been one of Sabah’s biggest economic dampers will be resolved with the Sabah Gas Master Plan and very importantly, the legislation and later, formation of Sabah Energy Commission will create tremendous positive impacts on Sabah’s “long, sick and tiresome” electricity woes. No longer will Sabah need to beg for approval from federal. Power is a complex issue but can be resolved.

[c] Sabah’s infrastructure plagues, like water, bad roads will be resolved, hopefully, pretty soon.

[d] With the implementation of some of these investments, there should be more jobs for Sabahans under GRS’ “Sabah First” pillar. 

Eventually, the tide of brain drain will turn in favour of Sabah when young Sabahans, attracted by increasing economic opportunities, begin to return from West Malaysia and other countries. SAYAP is developing a networking for young Sabahan returnees from overseas. A number of young Sabahans are now working with some GLCs and private sector stakeholders on new training methods and innovative ideas.

[e] Hajiji has asked civil servants to discard the old mentality, adopt a positive mindset to implement new efficient system. This call, coupled by SKN’s Safar on-going initiative on digitalisation will give tremendous improvements in the delivery system. 

[f] Good news on the employment front. An investor has indicated that it will need 400 engineers and has started some recruiting some. Does Sabah have 400 engineers?

[g] Hajiji’s restructure of Sabah economy is already happening. Sabahans should start seeking opportunities and build up niches for a better future.

Sabahans must love Sabah.

Politicians raising petty issues, slanderous arguments, inconsequential statements, empty promises for quick and cheap publicity are not showing they love Sabah or their voters. 

The fact of the matter is that they are destroying Sabah by these cheap political trickeries and deceptions. Sabahans have matured politically and can discern such political nonsense. 

They should emulate young Sabahans like Roger Chin and SAYAP leaders who are not political leaders but who have exemplary leadership quality to instil “Love Sabah” much better than many kampong politicians. 

If Sabahans allow such small-minded leaders to continue, Sabah’s very economic existence will be in danger. 

Every politician, irrespective of affiliation or rank should contribute to eradicate Sabah shameful stigma that Sabah is the richest state with the worst poverty.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/06/03/sabah-ph-reps-go-to-court-over-40-revenue-share-for-state/

https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2022/03/782754/hajiji-sabah-will-demand-40pct-revenue-collected-federal-govt

https://malaysia.news.yahoo.com/sabah-cm-says-slss-lawsuit-070100118.html

https://www.nst.com.my/news/politics/2022/03/784315/sabah-lawmaker-wants-sue-over-40-cent-revenue-state

https://www.bernama.com/en/business/news.php?id=2040190

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/06/14/sabah-civil-servants need-to-change-mindset-raise-govts-image-says-hajiji/

- 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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