Sat, 20 Apr 2024


Sabah’s professionals must rise up
Published on: Sunday, March 31, 2024
By: Datuk John Lo
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In any society, professionals are the crème di la crème. Rightly so as they are better educated, professionally qualified, technically proficient and intellectually superior. 

Also, the most organised as they have local and national institutions to back them up. In most instances, they have affiliations with other like-minded organisations in other countries like UK, USA and increasingly so China. 

Some even have linkage to world-wide organisations. Their network is unparalleled.

Professionals set standards and regulations, compliance to locally, national and international standards. They are the bulwarks of economic development and symbol of independence and worthy of respect.

It is therefore natural that professionals are leaders in their own rights, bearers of standards and professionalism and in many circumstances, sources of inspirations for innovation and change.

The professionals in Sabah should be light years ahead of ordinary Sabahans. They should be the torch bearers in economic development. 

But they are not. This is a very sad case.

ASSESSMENT OF SABAHAN PROFESSIONALS. All Sabahan professionals, with no exceptions, have gone to universities [local and overseas] or rigorous professional courses like their counter parts in West Malaysia. They belong to the same professional national associations/associations. To cut it short, they are on par with their equals in West Malaysia in qualification and more importantly, brain power.

Some professionals in West Malaysia have been “invading” Sabah as “TAIKO” consultants for projects in Sabah. Sabah professionals have allowed them to trample all over them.

The exceptions are Sabah’s SLS [Sabah Law Society] surveyors who are well organised. SLS is the only one fighting for Sabah’s rights in the 40pc of net revenue. They have also organised the BICAM which will an important component for development of Sabah.

Big majority of professionals are by-standers, coffee shop complainers, expecting others to fight for them on matters pertaining to their professional practices so that they can earn their fees in comfort. Dirtying their hands is not on their agenda. 

Worst examples are: [1] Architects’ practice as submission architects for a pittance of the total fees and willingness to bear the liabilities. Where is their professional self-respect? [2] Offers of deep fee discounts up to as much as 80pc by valuers. Such throat-cuttings are unhealthy for professional development.

[3] No professionals, except SLS, have acted against non-Sabahans barging into Sabah.

[4] Why Sabah professionals are reluctant to fight to be the prime or senior consultants. Why are they satisfied as juniors?

All these fee under-cuttings, compliancy and silo mentality are very damaging of the development of professionals. In this respect, the Surveyors are light years ahead. Their fees are controlled and payment made is paid to the Board of surveyors before job can commence.


Many professionals have indicated that they have not heard of the Sabah Professional Council. I will leave it to the professionals to give an update.

[1] Is it still around or has it died at birth? [2] Is it still getting organised after more than 2 years since conception. [3] Are the professionals still interested to come together to protect their professions and/or contribute to Sabah’s economy? [4] Is there a leadership issue? [5] May be the professionals have made it good and are comfortable, don’t want to be bothered?

Professionals who have not heard of this council should seek an update.


Sabah professionals and newly formed [only a few months!] SYBIL are quite similar in some aspects except SYBIL’s members are much more diverse and younger.

Compared to the professionals, they are much more dynamic, very much more eager to do something for their members and CONTRIBUTE TO SABAH’S GROWING ECONOMY. 

In this respect, the young Sabahans in SYBIL deserve admiration and respect from the professionals. May be the professionals can consult SYBIL on getting organised?

APPEAL TO THE SABAH PROFESSIONALS. There are plenty that well organised professionals can do to improve their economic/financial positions and their stake in the new economy of Sabah.

The obvious leadership vacuum among the professionals is very loud and should be filled ASAP. The professionals can and should play an integral part of Sabah’s future economy and the implementation of the Sabahans First Policy.

I hope a leader or some leaders will emerge soon to organise the Sabah professionals for their own economic/financial interest and as an economic force for the good of Sabah. Going forward, absolutely critical for them to show convincing evidence of their capacity and capability.

No investors, local or foreign, will entrust their projects or investments to any professionals unless they can absolutely sure of their professionalism. Never too late to start!

Sabah must have a group of strong, proactive and forward-looking professionals to grow and protect their professions and the Sabah’s economy.

Another important reason for professionals to get organised. They can be an extremely valuable attraction for many more young, well qualified Sabahan returnees from overseas!

If the staid or older, well-established professionals, for whatever reasons, are unwilling or unable to lead, they should consider stepping aside, encourage and guide the younger professionals to play their rightful roles in Sabah. Let the younger professionals build their future.

As CM Hajiji progresses with his economic reformation and transformation for Sabahans, it is imperative for the professionals to get organised to play their rightful roles in the context of the SABAHANS FIRST POLICY. 

They must not surrender to the invasion by non-Sabahans professionals.

- The views expressed here are the views of the writer 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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