Sun, 23 Jun 2024



Is Sabah important to the Prime Minister?
Published on: Sunday, June 09, 2024
By: Datuk John Lo
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Anwar’s recent visit to Sabah.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is probably Malaysia’s most dynamic, savviest PM, gifted with exceptional oratory skills and flair. On the international stage, China and USA are equally comfortable with him. His is an exceptional delicate balancing act.

Both Xi and Biden feel compelled to court his support. USA is Malaysia’s biggest FDI and China our biggest trading partner.

Also, he is welcome and respected in Islamic and developing countries. Anwar certainly knows his stuff and says the right things at the right time on the international stage.

At the rate he is going, Anwar will elevate Malaya [Sabah?] from being trapped in middle income to high income in the next few years.

Anwar has said all the right things when in Sabah, many of which are music to our ears.

The over-riding question: IS SABAH IMPORTANT TO ANWAR A FACT OR A FALLACY? Be clear-eye and decide for yourself. Skip the emotion and the politics.


From the following news items, you can discern that Sabah does not feature in substance in Anwar’s plan for Malaysia.

[a] HEADLINE NO.1: Malaysian PM’s ‘surprise’ national address paints ‘rosy’ economic outlook, justifies diesel subsidy rationalisation

What is in it for Sabah? Where is Sabah in this “rosy economic outlook”? Only that the diesel subsidy has not been taken away. malaysian-pm-surprise-national-address-144536229.html

[b] HEADLINE NO. 2: Malaysia targets RM500 billion semiconductor investment, levels up chip manufacturing

Nothing for Sabah in this RM500 billion. Semiconductor is the future. Sabah has been left out completely. Is there a role for Sabah in Malaysia’s booming semi-conductor chip industry? Can Sabah get out of being a backwater commodity producer?

[c] HEADLINE NO. 3: Bloomberg: Fledging AI sector, political stability send biggest foreign inflows into Malaysian stocks since 2022

AI is the future very soon. Nothing for Sabah. Will Anwar give Sabah a piece of the AI action?

[d] HEADLINE NO. 4. FedEx plans to expand business in Malaysia, says Anwar.

Nothing for Sabah. This is aviation logistics business. MABH’s plan for KKIA is, at best, for low value tourists. KKIA is light years behind in facilities to handle high value travellers and aviation logistic business. Sabah has been locked into an unsatisfactory position.

In common with Anwar’s other speeches on investments, nothing for Sabah. The consequence is simply this: Sabah will be left behind even more so long as the PM/Federal Government does not take exceptional steps to expedite upgrade Sabah’s economy.

[e] HEADLINE NO. 5. PM Anwar: Malaysia to train, upskill 60,000 engineers, allocate RM25b in fiscal support for National Semiconductor Strategy

Will Anwar remember Sabah and give us a slice of the action in upskilling 60,000 engineers and some of the investment in the semi-conductor investments?


With due respect to Anwar, he can’t say that he has paid more than 40pc in his speech in KDCA on 3 counts.

Count 1: No body knows the exact amount of Sabah’s 40pc net revenue share as this amount has not been determined yet. 

It is premature to say Putrajaya has given more than Sabah’s entitlement. No body knows the exact amount due to Sabah now. Anwar must give a meaningful deadline to resolve this. Don’t drag this any longer.

Count 2: No formula has been established for the calculation of Sabah’s 40pc net revenue share. 

How to reach the amount due and over due to Sabah without a formula? SLS’s court case against the Federal Government has a payment formula. Why is the Federal Government taking a long time to produce a formula? What is so difficult to produce this formula?

Count 3: Yet to be determined is the rate of interest for amount owing and total interest payable to Sabah. 

Surely there should be interest chargeable for overdue amount. Rate not established yet. Therefore, Anwar’s claim that he has paid Sabah more than Sabah’s 40pc net revenue share has no basis.

Anwar has mentioned his position has been made difficult cos other states are wanting to claim also. 

Sabah’s 40pc net revenue share is ours constitutionally as a pre-condition for the formation of Malaysia. This payment to Sabah should be the 1st item in the budget as it is a constitutional obligation by the Federal Government to Sabah. 

Anwar’s answer is simple. All other states, even Sarawak, is not entitled to this claim. Sarawak has a different arrangement.

Anwar must have the courage, as PM, to tell the other states that they are not entitled to it.


I don’t blame Anwar for playing to the gallery in KDCA. He is the PM for Malaysia of which Sabah is supposed to be 1/3. Other states are constantly making demands. Many states are more important politically and economically to him than Sabah. He has to listen to them too.

Good example is Penang International Airport, smaller and less busy than KKIA, but the Federal Government has been given RM1 billion for its renovation. Only cosmetic renovation for KKIA’s toilets and other minor stuff. Where is the logic?


This he can do in the following manners:

[a] Pay Sabah what is due and overdue from day 1. No dilly-dally. That is what we want. We don’t expect more than that. Any extra from him will be gratefully received.

[b] Federal Government can withdraw its appeal against SLS in the local standi case.

[c] No more delays in the settlement of Sabah’s 40pc net revenue share. After July 2024 deadline, he should accept the amount from Sabah’s appointed assessor. He should open all the books in regards to this claim for the assessor to do his work.

[d] Stop the establishment of the Proposed Village Committee by the Federal Ministry of Rural Development. This is a blatant infringement of Sabah’s jurisdiction. The fact that this Village Committee will be for Sabah only speaks volumes of the lack of respect for Sabah.

It is an open encroachment into Sabah’s jurisdiction. The villages are an internal matter for Sabah. 

Sabah must not let history repeat itself when Federal Government set up the office of the Federal Secretary in the 1980s to by-pass Sabah Government. This “parallel government system” imposed on Sabah is a sham and should have been abolished long ago.

The Federal Rural Ministry should stay within its federal boundary. It has no business to infringe into Sabah’s villages or run a parallel village administration system. All its funds and proposals should be channelled to the Sabah’s Rural Development Ministry.  

In any case, Anwar has already said that he wants hardcore poor in Sabah to be totally eradicated by July 2024. This makes the Federal Rural Ministry’s proposal redundant.https://www.thestar.


Sabah must focus on more than 40pc net revenue share. We must get Anwar to remember and include Sabah in all the big investment that he is talking about.  

Let’s be practical. Anwar has to look after the whole country. Anwar’s plan for Sabah is fairly limited in scope. This is clearly reflected in NIMP2030 and all the exciting investments/new high-tech industries that are sprouting up fast in Malaya. 

Hajiji has started the ball rolling in regaining Sabah’s 63 rights from the Federal Government.  

We must stay strong, united and assertive to support him on Sabah’s 40pc net revenue share and an equitable share of the USA FDI and trade with China. 

Don’t expect any favours from Anwar if Sabah leaders can’t unite and stop quarrelling.

The views expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Express.

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