Sabah’s resources must benefit Sabahans first
Published on: Sunday, March 05, 2023
By: Datuk John Lo
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PLEASE ignore the politicking and scheming of some politicians. Such babblings are wasting your time. Ask them what and how they can improve your life. Don’t let them lure you into their senseless, useless political jabbering. The election is over. They must work for you to justify your support. I say this for 2 reasons.

First Hajiji has promised to focus on improving Sabah’s economy. He has delivered handsomely in 2021, despite the pandemic, Russian/Ukraine war and very gloomy global economic environment. Here is the statistic. Sabah’s GDP in 2020 was RM83 billion. It was RM102 billion in 2021. Very impressive growth of 23pc. 2022 would be even better.

Second, for comparation, let’s take Jilin Province of China. It is a small province. Its leaders have put their top priority on economic renewal for the last 20 years successfully. Hence Jilin has been on the move. Here are some interesting statistics. Jilin population is 28 million, GDP=USD178 billion [Sabah’s GDP is less than USD30 billion], land size is 1/3 of Sabah’s. Some lessons on Jilin’s leaders’ economic leadership are worthy of note.

Jilin was one of the earliest provinces to industrialize, especially in heavy industry. It has the first steel mill, built the first car [Red Flag] for Chairman Mao [using bare hands and rudimentary tools] and presidential cars for all successive Presidents. Jilin has built many dams. The first and oldest dam in China which is 100 years old, was in Jilin. Jilin has recently completed the Fengman Dam which is comparative in size to the Hoover Dam in USA.

Hajiji is right to focus on economic development for Sabah at this juncture of Sabah’s history. It is obvious that the political leaders in Jilin have been modernising/restructuring their economy for the last 20 years. The results are interesting.

Jilin’s superior infrastructure:

First class highways, like those in W Malaysia, connecting all its population, industrial and agriculture centres. Towns and villages are served by well-built and maintained roads. Have not seen a pothole or any patches of repair during my visit.

Jilin has recently completed its inland railway hub/port in its new industrial park. This is connected all the way to Hamburg, Germany. Its export can reach Europe within 14 days, comparable to shipping. Jilin has a comprehensive internal railway network as well. In addition, Changchun and Jilin City are connected by high-speed train.

Jilin citizens do not know what are electricity black outs or dry taps! The Fengman Dam alone has capacity to generate sufficient power for the whole of Sabah!

Its Changchun Airport is much larger than KKIA, modern and immaculately maintained. KKIA looks old and worn out, in great need of a major renovation.

Industrialization of Jilin Province, latest industrial park.

Jilin is relatively highly industrialized and is a major producer of automobiles, railway coaches including China’s latest MAGLEV COACHES for the fastest trains in the world, highly developed petrochemicals, chemicals, machine tools, power, forest products and extensive downstream industry in agriculture produce. Jilin has several industrial parks. It’s latest is the China-Korean Demonstration Park in Changchun City. This industrial park will be the economic engine to boost Jilin province into the 22nd century! Started only in 2020, the total area is 210 sq. km. Within 2 years, Jilin has completed and work in progress projects that cover 36 sq. KM. 

Already in operations are: [a] Inland railway port with direct link to Europe. [b] This rail network is connected to some major operators inside this industrial park like JD.com. [c] Free trade zone. [d] Bonded warehouse. [e] Trade exhibition building. [f] Massive cold-chain warehouse/storage complexes. [g] This zone has attracted many high-tech industries, including 3D medical equipment design, electronics, vehicle design and dozens more.

One important note: Jilin’s gas and petroleum resources are being processed for local industrialization and sold to other parts of China. Hence, it has built up a sophisticated petrochemical industry. The PetroChina’s Petrochemical plant is fully automated with a capacity of 10 million metric tons. Jilin’s Railway Technology College is the largest in China.

Jilin’s advance agriculture., no problems in food sufficiency and food security. Jilin is one of China’s most important agricultural centres. It produces huge surplus in wheat, rice, barley, sorghum, and cattle to help to feed China’s 1.4 billion population. It’s downstream in agriculture and dairy produce are modern and sophisticated. Jilin has the largest hallah hub in China and its products are exported throughout the middle east and all major Muslim countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. This hallah hub alone processes 800 heads of high-grade cattle every day. 

Jilin Province produces 60pc of China’s ginseng and has a highly developed downstream processing industry.

Jilin’s Chinese traditional medicine industry is highly developed. Reflecting its importance, Jilin has the Changchun University of Traditional Chinese Medicine! 

Unlike Sabah’s vast areas of uncultivated land, Jilin uses every cultivable square foot to produce food or some commercial crops.

Jilin also has the Jilin Agriculture University. 

Sabah going forward, Economic Leadership is critical. I want to deal further on the point that I have started with in this article. 

The huge development stride that Jilin Province is making in recent times is a reflection of the overall quality of economic leadership at the national level. The Beijing government has actively encouraged Jilin Province to “go for it” like giving approval of the gigantic industrial park within 3 years from the initial design stage. Other good examples are: it poured billions and billions of RMB into critical infrastructure projects like the railway link to Europe, and the Fengman Dam. Sabah’s Pan Borneo is slower than snail. The Beijing central government has also built the new Changchun airport. It actively encourages and facilitates Jilin to conduct cross border commerce and grant status for free trade zone, bonded warehouses. Jilin has a Foreign Affairs Office for liaison with other countries.

Is Putrajaya doing the same for Sabah? Has Putrajaya been a hindrance for Sabah’s economic development?

In addition, there is considerable economic leadership, discipline and focus at the provincial level with the determination and political will to push for economic development. Such attributes can be seen at all levels of the provincial administration. Every official feels it is his duty to advance economic development for their province. One gets the impression from the officials and staff that Jilin Province is a cohesive, well-trained team out to win. 

Here is my point. Jilin’s leaders have started on its economic renewal more than 20 years ago with tons of support from Beijing. Within 2 years, Hajiji has made considerable progress in regaining control of oil and gas and to restructure Sabah’s economy with only limited help from Putrajaya. No big money from Federal for infrastructure. Hardly any encouragement for economic expansion or cross border trade.

We in Sabah must join hand with Hajiji to develop Sabah, to fight for Sabah’s economic rights. It is the duty of every Sabahan to ensure that Sabah would not be left behind again, would not be short changed or exploited. We must fight for our resources, oil/gas, land, oil palm plantations, tourism and ITP to stay in Sabah and be used to benefit Sabahans first. This is how Jilin has done it. This is how Sabah should do it.

Sabahans must unite to develop our homeland for our future generations. 



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