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Be own economic master
Published on: Sunday, September 10, 2023
By: Datuk John Lo
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On-going fast evolving political, social and economic trends will affect Sabah’s future adversely. We must fortify and protect Sabah’s heritage and economy.

It is imperative for Sabah to have our own direction in politics, social and economic development for the following reasons.

The political trend emerging in W Malaysia on RRR [Race Religion, Royalty] has reached a toxic level during the 6 state-elections recently.

For Sabahans to pretend that this trend is not significant or does not affect Sabahans is like the proverbial ostrich burying its head in the sand.

So long as the W Malaysian leadership are imprisoned/obsessed by RRR issues and ignored/or unable to focus on solving the numerous economic problems, Malaysia is destined to stay in the middle-income trap.

Sabah, if we don’t grow up and take charge, will be stunted in the low-income poverty trap. Example: Very serious current issue is the inability of Putrajaya to control inflation. Rice has just gone up by 36%!!!!

The evolving geopolitical and global economic trends are hopelessly pessimistic. The Russian/Ukraine war will not end anytime soon. Price of basic staples is skyrocketing.

The world is being divided into two blocks with the so-called West headed by USA and Global South by China/Russia. USA no longer can practice hegemony.

The BRICS expansion to include 6 new significant members including Saudi Arabia and UAE, will pose a serious challenge to the West. The BRICS will accelerate de-dollarization, the consequences of which is already causing a global recession.

USA, already the world’s biggest debtor country, can’t wean itself from borrowing more and more. China, the world’s only growth engine for years is slowing down. 

Sabah must become the master of “Our own Sabah house”. 

As an equal partner in Malaysia, Sabahans must no longer be led by the nose by W Malaysian leaders, look to them for direction in every small little thing for leadership, guidance or approval. As an equal partner, we have our rights and privileges which we must never give up, which we must protect at all cost and which we must continue fighting to regain lost ones.

The blunt message in short is simple: Sabah must grow up. Sabah must control our destiny. Sabah must become the master of “Our own Sabah house”.

How to become the master of “Our own Sabah house”?

[a] Realism of past 30 years.

First, we must recognize, no matter how painful, that we have lost our say as an equal partner of Malaysia, in how Malaysia has been run, be it politics, social or economics. Sabah mattered little in the national agenda.

Sabah has been sidelined. Sabah leaders, mostly their faults, have accepted to play second fiddle until recently. Sabahans’ plights and woes have been ignored. The latest Anwar’s New Industrial Plan 2030 has little benefits for Sabah.

Sabah has little say in the formulation of economic policies, very poor representation in critical federal institutions and GLCs. 

No longer we should or can accept the status quo as a silent, subservient and bystander partner. Such arrangement can only work against the interest of all Sabahans. We must continue to fight for our 40% share of revenue.

Here are some pointers to achieve the above.

[a] Be matured, achieve full stature in mental, political and political maturity.

As a people, Sabahans, especially political leaders, have behaved like delinquents, allowing non-Sabahans to cart away our resources, wealth and jobs. Time for us Sabahans to exhibit maturity. Be responsible and take charge of our economic destiny. Stop the empty rhetoric of politicking, focus on economic development, the well-being of Sabahans.

Get our people out of poverty. Losing our economic destiny is like losing our soul. Sabahans should not be the poorest Malaysians. We should be the richest. We should be on top of the economic performance league.

[b] Have faith in our own Sabahans. Priority for Sabahans. 

Seeking a W Malaysian company which has no expertise or experience on airport development to undertake a study on the new KKIA is the most blatant sign of the lack of faith in Sabahans. This is as irresponsible as it can get.

It is the highest point of immaturity. The very blunt, unequivocal message is: don’t simply run to W Malaysians for everything. This report on the new KKIA should be made public for Sabah to judge for themselves.

Sabah must give first priority to Sabahans where and when it is possible to do so in the most practical manner. If Sabahans can’t meet the basic requirements, they should be given a chance to be partners and to learn. But not to be given free ride.

[c] Develop and strengthen Sabahan identity.

All Sabahans are proud in being Sabahans. Masidi’s comment is best, “Sabahans are the best Malaysians!” Sabahans have no issue in RRR. We should not allow the W Malaysian RRR culture to invade Sabah. We should reject these contentious, destructive issues totally.

Don’t allow W Malaysian teachers into Sabah to indoctrinate our children with these W Malaysian culture. Sabah must strengthen our own unique culture. 

Sabahans can save Malaysia by exporting our culture of racial and religious harmony to W Malaysia. Let us teach W Malaysians to live happily and peacefully with each other.

[d] Sabahans must have inherent economic strength.

Sabahans must be strong economically. Without inherent economic strength, equal partnership is a mere slogan. No meaning. Just empty words.

Inherent economic strength can only be gotten with ingenuity, creativity, hard work and a set of good government policies for Sabahans to grow in the economic sense. Our leaders must stop as commission agents, cease selling contracts to non-Sabahans. All projects/contract must be given to Sabahans.

To build up Sabah’s inherent economic strength, let us implement The Sabahans First Policy to prioritize Sabahans’ benefits, including businessmen and professionals in projects, investments and businesses.

Very importantly, Sabah must have a programme for young Sabahans to partake in the rapidly expanding economy.

Sabahan leaders must manage Sabah’s economy to benefit Sabahans.

There is a real danger that everything will come to naught, nothing, zero if Sabah leaders fail to unite to make Sabah great again economically. Selfish leaders have caused Sabah’s economic downfall in the past.

We must have genuine leaders with ability to manage the economy, to implement Hajiji’s Sabahans First Policy, to make Sabah great again.

- The views expressed here are the views of the writer 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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