Sabah’s 2023 hopes
Published on: Sunday, January 08, 2023
By: Datuk John Lo
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The World Bank’s forecast for the world economy has been ominous. It did not mince any word. The warning has been blunt and fearful. Here is the gist. The world economic growth has spiralled downward from 5.7pc in 2021 to a mere 2.9pc in 2022. The picture for 2023 is foreboding and scary.

The on-going Russian/Ukraine war has made it really bad—- [a] Worldwide stagflation, emerging economies will face the worst consequences. Many countries including advance ones, will slide into recession. [b] Major economies like USA, EU and China will slow down considerably. [c] Massive supply chain disruptions, severely worsened by USA’s attempts of suppression of China’s rise to world super power No 1 especially in microchip production. [d] Energy uncertainties/turbulences created by the West on 1 side and Russia/Saudi Arabia/China on the other. [e] USA’s selfish, self-preservation fiscal and monetary policies will create chaos. Its incessant hike in interest rates has generated economic and financial turmoil in many 3rd world countries some of which will go bankrupt. Already happened to Sri Lanka. [e] The global uncertainties resulting from the re-alignment from a unipolar super power [USA] to a multi-polar world system.



Malaysia’s economy in 2023.

The world Bank’s forecast for Malaysia can best be summarised succinctly with this remark from World Bank lead economist for Malaysia Apurva Sanghi “as an open economy, Malaysia faces the brunt of global supply disruptions”. Malaysia’s economic growth has been down sized from 4.5pc to 4.2pc and face considerable headwinds in view of the global uncertainties that I have listed above.

A lot is at stake for Malaysia. Very much dependent on how well Anwar can steer the country politically and economically in the midst of these global uncertainties, how effective, how far and how fast he can transform the economy, especially in his fight against deeply entrenched corruption. The inertia in the administrative system of government will need every oz of Anwar’s energy. He must resist and desist to give in to “bantuan” populistic politics like previous governments. More than ever, he must stay strong politically to sort out the massive and messy GLCs and the political threats from political warlords. Let’s pray he can unite all Malaysians, get all Malaysians down to hard work, increase productivity and competitiveness. Put politics of race and religion aside. Stop the brain drain. 

Anwar has done well up to now. 


Sabah’s hopes 2023.

In 2023, Sabah will likely to have a cushion landing, thanks for the following reasons. [a] Prudent financial management by the government. [b] Revenue has been increasing and is likely to increase moderately. 2022’s revenue has surpassed 2021 at RM6.6 billion. This is remarkable in view of the very bleak global economic scenario in 2022. [c] Implementation of some major investment proposals which will inject substantial cash flow into the economy. [d] More investments are likely to come in 2023 as some negotiations are already at an advance stage. [e] Anwar has announced that Petronas would return the control of gas to Sabah. This will profoundly boost Sabah’s economy, especially in the energy sector and generation of electricity. The lack of energy has been Sabah’s biggest curse. The return of control in gas will be a pheromonal blessing. 

Sabah’s hope No. 1 in 2023—- Political unity for the sake of Sabah.

For Sabah to make meaningful and long-lasting progress, our political leaders must transform their mindsets to foster unity. They must be able to exercise sound economic leadership.

There must be a minimum political moral standard for all politicians to recognise and adhere. There should be a proper and morally acceptable way to change a government. It is the job of the party in power to govern and the opposition to oppose, to check and balance. The opposition is an integral part of a democratic government. Hence, Great Britain’s opposition is called the Loyal Opposition and its leader receives an official salary in addition to his MP’s pay. Lest it be forgotten in Sabah, both the party in government and in opposition should never lose the supreme objectives of safe guarding Sabah’s sovereignty, dignity of all Sabahans and protection of Sabah’s rights in Malaysia. 

Many leaders need a new mind set. The old style of self-interest and/personal power politics are irrelevant these days. Leaders must prove they are useful and effective to serve the economic interest of Sabahans.

Given these objectives, it is not inconceivable that the parties in government and in opposition can be on different sides but strive to achieve these common objectives for Sabah. Sabahans should reject any leader that deviates from these objectives, more so in these very difficult times globally and in Malaysia. Very simply, we can’t afford to have selfish or self-centred leaders. Now is the time for Sabah political leaders to show wisdom for sake of Sabah’s common good, to ensure Sabah’s economic survival, prosperity, build up Sabah’s solid foundation for our future generations and to expedite Sabah’s economic recovery from COVID and global economic uncertainties.

Sabah’s hope No. 2 in 2023—- Sabahans must grab opportunities under Sabahans First Policy.

Google on the very considerable progress that has been made in Sabah’s new economy in 2022, from inclusive policies for the benefits of all Sabahans, to inflow of investments some of which are being implemented, to job opportunities, to business/investment opportunities. Be on the alert for more impactful investments that are coming in 2023.

Sabahans must Grab, Grab, Grab these opportunities. Don’t be tardy. Don’t wait for them to fall on your lap. Grab these opportunities.

Sabah’s hope No. 3 in 2023——speedier implementation of investment proposals.

I congratulate the Ministry of Industrial Development and KKIP in the record-speed of implementation of a few major investment proposals that are already piling for the foundation.
Some 11,000 workers are toiling hard on sites. Take a drive to KKIP to see for yourself. On their completion, there will be many opportunities which I hope Sabahans can compete and grab. MID is pioneering some good practices in co-ordination and dismantling of silos. These are confidence-builders for investors. I must also congratulate KKIP for its refreshing approach in looking after big investors.

Sabah’s hope No. 4 in 2023—-work harder to strengthen Sabah’s position under MA63. 

Like a miracle, Sabah has regained some rights in 2022 that were thought to be impossible even in 2021.
We have achieved in 1 year [2022] more than in the last 30 years of fighting! The latest is Anwar’s announcement for Petronas to hand over control of gas to Sabah. What an achievement! 

Lest it be forgotten, there is much, much more work for Sabah to attain a full-fledged 1/3 partner as specified in MA63.


Sabah’s hope No.5 in 2023—- Sabah needs economic leadership.

Time has changed. A new era has dawned with the installation of Anwar as PM. He is bringing in a new style of leadership at the federal level, a much more open, inclusive management style. He is much more willing to hand back more of our rights. His approach is more consultative, reasonable and professional, which is an impressive departure from past semi-autocratic, personal interest, crony and “whim and fancy” style. Anwar’s style is based on looking after the interest of ordinary Malaysians with prudent and pragmatic economic leadership.

The ultimate hope for Sabah in 2023 is for Sabah leaders to practice political principles and economic leadership that can benefit Sabahans.

When the politicians fight, ordinary Sabahans suffer. 

When they focus on economic development, ordinary Sabah benefit. So, please stop fight and solve Sabah’s numerous 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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