Sun, 25 Feb 2024


Stop it and solve Sabah’s economic woes
Published on: Sunday, January 15, 2023
By: Datuk John Lo
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Sabah Umno (top pic) and Parti Warisan (above) attempted to topple the State Government despite the people being happy over how it has been functioning.
I WOULD like touch on Sabah’s recent political developments in the context of economic plights of ordinary Sabahans.

Responsible Sabah political leaders should act like good parents.

Here is an analogy. Responsible parents will work very hard to provide the very best for their children including a conducive family environment, solid moral upbringing, financial stability and best possible education. Loving parents would put their children first, would sacrifice for them. They would never indulge in anything to damage their children’s future.

Take this to the political reality in Sabah. Many political leaders [not all!] have been doing exactly the opposite of what good, loving parents should do. They tell lies to their constituents, give exorbitant promises but don’t deliver. Over the years, there have been many Sabah leaders who have become wantonly and shamelessly selfish, have looked after their interest and their pockets at the expense of Sabahans. They have sold Sabah’s interest and assets at cheap sale prices for pecuniary benefits. 

The current political situation is like many repeats in Sabah’s history. Political instability and chaos have been created because of power tussles. Never has there been a situation when a political divorce has happened because of principle or in the interest of Sabahans.

Sabah has suffered badly from years of political instability.

Political stability, a strong administrative system supported by a professional civil service are most important for long term economic development. Good examples are Singapore, China, South Korea and now Indonesia under Jokowi. Sabah’s golden era was during Tan Sri Harris as CM. 

Sabah’s growth rate reached 8% during the last year of Tan Sri Musa’s office. Lacklustre growths in between their chief ministerships. 

Sabah has been a textbook case of having suffered from consistent and incessant political instability. The natural consequence is also textbook; weak administrative system and civil servants have been prevented to perform their professional duties. 

Result is that Sabah’s economy has suffered badly despite of an abundance of resources. Sabah has sunk to be the worst performing state. Many Sabah’s MA63 rights have also been lost.

Stop fighting for personal power and positions. Sabahans are suffering.

Understandable that those outside the government wish to kick out those in government. This is the nature of politics. However, for the sake of Sabah, I plead to political leaders t0 minimise political fights, work towards a unity government like in the federal government. Cease the back door power grab. They can narrow differences if they use their wisdom on the followings:

[a] Fighting for and regaining Sabah’s rights are gaining traction. Unfortunately, the political parties’ battle cries are falling short, lacking substance, direction and clarity. They have yet to produce a set of coherent priorities, strategies and implementations. The prospect of realising a complete Sabah unity government will be considerably easier if there is in depth consensus in this matter. 

[b] Please exercise political morality. Stop using money politics. YBs should stop selling themselves, should stop buying votes.

[c] Please Don’t start a political war you can’t win. This will create political instability. Only desperados do this.

[d] Don’t over estimate your ego and your support. They are smaller than you think. 

[e] Please take heed of the wise saying “be careful who you let on your ship, because some people will sink the whole ship just because they can’t be the captain.” This is so common in Sabah politics. The greed for power can be so overpowering that they are willing to sacrifice Sabah and all Sabahans just so that can be the boss.

[f] Please stop thinking you must be a minister or have a high government position to be part of the unity government. All genuine political leaders, with or without government positions, can participate in the unity government.

Don’t “cry-baby” to West Malaysian leaders.

Matured leaders don’t “cry-baby” to KL leaders. Be gracious in victory and endure defeat stoically. Asking West Malaysian leaders to mediate in your favour is exposing political leadership immaturity and weaknesses. It will affect our standing to regain Sabah’s MA63 rights very seriously.

Who would respect Sabah leaders if they can’t stop quarrelling, quibbling and can’t settle their own disputes? How would Sarawak trust Sabah seriously as a reliable partner in the “Borneo Block?” if we allow or need West Malaysian leaders to arbitrate? 

West Malaysian leaders, please keep out of Sabah’s affairs. 

Anwar is right to leave the final decision to Hajiji to resolve the political impasse as he deems fit.

Problems in Sabah are for Sabahans to resolve. Please don’t interfere. Let’s be very blunt about it, interference from West Malaysian political leaders should be unwelcome. Their interferences, with good intention or otherwise, have created an economic mess since 1963. Just ask them to return to us what is due to Sabah and give us an equitable amount in economic development fundings and representations in all federal institutions/agencies. 

Hajiji has appointed his cabinet. All should respect his decision. Let him lead. 

Please ask west Malaysian leaders to leave us alone. We are Sabahans. We should know what to do.

Stop fighting, start working for your voters.

Hajiji has achieved more since taking office in September 2011 than in the last 30 years:

[a] Regaining rights from the Federal Government like Energy generation, control of gas, sales tax on oil/gas, Sabah Gas Master Plan, Collaborative Commercial Agreement, fishing licencing and many others. More are in the pipe line.

[b] Record inflow of domestic and foreign investments. The recent political instability may have jittered and unnerved investors. They must be assured that political stability will be preserved.

[c] Record revenue in 2021 and 2022 [RM6.6 billion]. Expect RM7 billion in 2023 in spite that the whole world is in economic turmoil.

[d] Many jobs are being created; more are coming.

Stop the fights. Create political stability. Start working for your constituents.

8. Why topple apple cart that Hajiji’s is building for Sabah? 

Let’s unite to resolve these following urgent economic problems:

[i] To fight and regain faster Sabah’s rights under MA63. Plenty more to fight for.[ii] To contain inflation and reduce the cost of doing business. Inflation is Sabahans’ biggest economic headache now.

[iii] To solve Sabah’s logistic problems, in air, marine, internet/WIFI, energy, road.

[iv] To bring better life for our farmers and fishermen.

[v] To clear blockages and expedite implementation of economic/investment projects.

[vi] To create new business for the Y and Z generations.

Please stop jostling for personal power and positions. Political instability can hurt all Sabahans. Settle down. Show your economic leadership by focusing on delivering your promises to your voters, many of whom are still very poor, living in sheds, jobless and have little or no income, no pipe water, no electricity, little access to medical care. 

This is the reality of daily struggles in life for many Sabahans. Political instability can only make things worse for them. 

Please show them your compassion.

- 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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