Choice of full stomachs or political fights
Published on: Sunday, January 29, 2023
By: Datuk John Lo
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Political stability is an absolute “MUST” for Sabah to continue and sustain the economic restructuring that CM Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor has initiated in 2011/2022. These initiatives need time to be implemented and produce benefits for Sabahans. Any destructive political instability before the next general election can destroy Hajiji’s initiatives and condemn Sabah back to the dark, depressing days of low or negative growth.

Political stability promotes economic development and vice versa.

These two elements reinforce each other and can produce tremendous economic benefits for Sabahans.

What some economic scholars say about political stability/instability on the economy.

[a]    What is the meaning of political instability?

The unstable structure of a government and its inclination to collapse in a short time due to unstable political structures.

[b]    What does it mean if a country is politically unstable?

Political instability is a natural tendency of a government to collapse either because of conflicts or growing struggles, sometimes violent, between various political parties. Political instability also occurs if there is a rapid change of government and policy, increasing the likelihood of subsequent instability

[c]    What contributes to political stability in a country?

Economic development is a main factor to political stability as development in general leads to improvement of individual's living level to contribute in return in promoting political and economic stability.

Political stability and economic development have a symbiotic relationship. 

As Sabah has suffered economic stagnancy for years, Sabah must have political stability before there can be economic growth.

[d]    Why is political stability important for a business and investment?

Political stability encompasses many things, including corruption, the strength of institutions and the rule of law. It therefore must be carefully assessed by multinational enterprises while selecting an FDI destination.

Hajiji has attracted record amounts of investments in 2021/2022. Sabah must have political stability for these investments to be implemented in the next few years. The investors may pull out if there is senseless political instability and fighting.

Poorest countries suffer from worst political instability. 

A sample study of 113 countries by Alberto Alesina, Roubini and Swagel defines political instability as the propensity of a government to collapse. That propensity or its semblance results in lower economic growth and per capita decrease in GDP. Sabah has already suffered through this for many years.

Almost all the poorest countries have perennial political instabilities. It is easy to see that they cause poverty which in turn spawn more political instability. Such countries inevitably suffer from the vicious circle of political instability and poverty. Examples of the poorest countries with the worst political instability are Yemen, Somalia, Syria and South Sudan. 

Economic development does not drop from heaven nor can it happen over-night. It requires at least 2 or 3 generations to nurture in an environment of political stability. There must also be quality economic leadership to steer it.

In most cases, political instability is created by selfish, self-centred politicians.


Political stability and Sabah’s economic growth.

Having endured untold sufferings for 2 generations, Sabahans have every right to demand politicians to create political stability [not conflicts] to ensure sustainable economic growth now and for future generations.

I can say with little fear of contradiction that vast majority of Sabahans prefer full stomachs over political fights.

If Sabah’s present politicians fail to unite to create political stability, it will be very bleak for Sabahans. All Sabahans must insist that the politicians should stop fighting and produce action plans for the followings: 

[a] To give Sabahans a decent economic growth.

[b] To build on achievements in 2011/2022 to benefit Sabahans like [i] Better quality of economic leadership. [ii] More equitable federal/state relationship. [iii] Regain myriad of rights from federal especially in the control of gas and control of power generation.

[c] To contain inflation.

Sabahans have suffered tremendously from the “double whammy” of higher prices [30% higher than national average] and lowest income for more than 30 years. Everything in Sabah is more costly, from a simple cup of coffee to a plate of fried noodle, meat, fish, vegetables, transportation and housing. Recent spates of global inflation have reduced many Sabahans down to poverty level. Basic food like meats and fish are beyond reach. 

[d] To expedite recovery from the pandemic and to contain the economic fallout from the Russian/Ukraine war.

[e] Sabah is the richest resource state and has the most poverty. So shameful. Political instability will worsen it further.

[f] Instead of fighting and plotting for personal power and positions constantly, better for politicians to unite and focus their energy to lead Sabahans in securing jobs and business opportunities from the inflow of investments. Though there is much unemployment, Sabah may soon be short of skilled people in a number of areas [i] oil and gas is an excellent example. Already serious shortage is apparent in this sector. The demand will continue to uptrend as Sabah takes over the control of gas. [ii] Legislation for the Sabah Energy Commission has been passed which will soon require many skilled personnel. [iii] ITP and downstream industrialization will produce 80,000 skilled and unskilled jobs. [iv] Implementation of new investments in manufacturing in KKIP and SOGIP will generate many jobs. [v] Sabah will need many Sabahans when tourism begins to recover which is expected in the next few months.

[g] Solve Sabah’s infrastructures where there are problems everywhere. Don’t let our children risk their young lives crossing rivers to go to schools, stop the brown-outs and black-outs, give piped waters to all Sabahans. Speed up internet connection.

[h] Explore the geographical potentials of Sabah in the air and marine connectivity and create a logistic hub in Sabah.

[i] There are many areas in agriculture that politicians can unite to produce solutions like food securities and sufficiency in rice, expensive animal feeds, [Why Sabah has to import corn from Argentina!?] and fertilizers which is costing more than RM3000 per ton.

[j] Look into land reform and transform Sabah’s 230,000 plus NT land into productive use. 90% of these are un-cultivated or under cultivated. Transform these NTs to help the bumiputra to achieve better lives.

[k] Reduce the extraordinary expensive housing. It is impossible for most young new families to own a home nowadays.

Politicians’ choice: Give political stability to benefit Sabahans or condemn Sabahans to further economic poverty damnation with their fighting.

Sabahans should give a forceful and unequivocal message to the politicians reminding them of the mandate the voters have given them. Their duty is not to fight for themselves but to serve the voters, to give Sabahans better lives, employment and business opportunities, progress. Sabahans must speak out loudly to demand politicians to produce concrete economic results. 

Year of the Rabbit is conducive for peace, happiness and hope.

I plead and pray that politicians will give Sabahans the peace of mind [please don’t fight like cats and dogs!], happiness and better lives for all Sabahans. If the politicians can work together, there is a good chance that Sabah’s economy can grow as fast and agile as the rabbit can run in 2023.

- 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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